Thanks to Stephens Media for noting Governing magazine’s inclusion of state Rep. Darrin Williams of Little Rock on its list of a dozen state legislators nationwide to watch in 2012.

Yes, but he’ll likely fade into irrelevancy with other Democrats if the Republican jihad seizes a House majority. Williams won’t be House speaker. Terry Rice or another Republican will be. Democrats will be left with scraps. Nonetheless, says Governing:

Rep. Darrin Williams was adopted and raised in Little Rock. He’s a second-termer in a state with a three-term limit for state representatives, so he’s positioned to become a strong contender for speaker — which would make him the first African-American to hold the position. He has already chaired the House Judiciary Committee, where he won a measure of bipartisan support for legislation.

“Although Williams represents a progressive, urban district, his religious background — he’s the son of a minister — and cultural moderation makes it possible for him to build bridges on issues such as sentencing reform,” says Jay Barth, a political scientist at Hendrix College.