Been slow, so why not commence with the night’s open line, plus, let’s:
* SPECULATE ON 2014: Lot of talk lately on the race for governor in 2014. On the Democratic side, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has announced and former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is staying mum but widely presumed to be preparing to enter the race. Republicans? Interesting for what’s NOT happening. A lobbyist set up a website for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr for Governor last year. But: 1) even Republicans say he’s not up to the task (not to mention the NWA local editorialist); 2) money problems are among recent personal issues; 3) inability to raise political money remains a problem. U.S. Rep. Steve Womack would be a strong candidate, but they say he’s got a bad case of Potomac fever. He loves being a bigshot in Washington. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin now is presumed to be pointing toward a grudge match with U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor rather than making a race for governor. (Get this: Somebody said his interest in running for governor was for its better platform to build a future race for president. The person who told me this swears this isn’t a joke.) That leaves perennial candidates Asa Hutchinson and wacky Curtis Coleman. Which effectively leaves Asa!, unless a candidate emerges from the legislative class. Loy Mauch could fire up the Sons of Confederate Veterans. From that newspaper editorial, behind pay wall, on Darr, which followed his botched job of responding to a foreclosure lawsuit on his home:
Darr wasn’t ready for primetime when he ran for offce in 2010. Despite some progress, it’s clear he’s still not.
* TAX AND SPEND: The Arkansas Farm Bureau, the most retrograde lobby in Arkansas, has endorsed a general sales tax to build four-lane highways. Which is a pretty good reason to consider voting AGAINST the tax.
* 33 MONTHS FOR PLEA DEAL IN USA DRUG FRAUD CASE: The U.S. attorney’s office has announced that Garrett Sorensen, a former vice president of advertising for USA Drug, was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for guilty pleas to mail fraud and money laundering. He was accused of funneling drug chain ad business, at inflated prices, to a company he helped create and control along with his wife and her sister. He was accused of spending the money with his wife on a boat, a Jeep, a Suburban and a Rolex watch, among others. Charges against Mrs. Sorensen and her sister were dismissed by separate agreement.
* MORE INFO ON ARKANSAS BAPTIST SHOOTING: Fox 16 is reporting some new information on the recent fatal shooting of an Arkansas Baptist College student who was helping someone change a tire near 16th and Bishop. The report says the shooting may have arisen from a gambling debt, but the intended victim may have been another person changing the tire. Derek Olivier, 19, of New Iberia, La., was killed.
* LU HARDIN IN HILLCREST: A neighbor reports that he ran into former UCA President Lu Hardin recently and Hardin reports that he’s now a resident of Little Rock, living in the Hillcrest neighborhood, after several years in Florida. He happily reported a new grandchild.
* CHILD PORN SENTENCE: A Pulaski County man, Fredrick Rains, 63, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison today for possession of child pornography. The investigation began after a complaint that Rains had taken an “inappropriate” photo of a 16-year-old girl in a local restaurant.
* NAKED, PARTS I AND II: A Benton teen was arrested for public intoxication after entering a Conway convenience store naked over the weekend, the Log Cabin Democrat reports. And in Jonesboro, KAIT reports that a man and his wife — both pantless — were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia after a weekend traffic stop. They were described as known meth users.
* WRONG TURN: Altus police report a drunk driver driving a pickup along railroad tracks was hit by a train.
* THE SO-CALLED LIBERAL MEDIA: Here’s a fascinating report about how Republican fronted groups got a bogus poll about the dire circumstances of U.S. manufacturing into print. It’s useful for the web of Republican, corporate organizations revealed. For example:
These Republicans, in turn, were hired to do this survey by two groups that sound very nonpartisan: the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). In fact, both have a history of targeting Democrats for attacks.
In August, NAM made a six-figure ad buy in Ohio indicting Washington regulators and calling on voters to tell Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown “it’s time to stand up for Ohio workers and manufacturers.” NAM also founded the American Justice Partnership, which has helped fund ads bashing Dems.
Just four days before the survey covered by the Journal Sentinel was released, the AP reported that NAM and its partner group NFIB had purchased ads saying the expense of complying with federal regulations is killing job creation. Their ads targeted Democratic congressional candidates in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
The NFIB claims to represent small businesses, but as the Huffington Post recently reported, the left-leaning Center for Media and Democracy did an analysis concluding the NFIB lobbies on issues that favor large corporate interests rather than small-business concerns and has received millions in secret contributions from groups associated with Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers. The report found that 100 percent of NFIB’s advertising budget supported Republicans or opposed Democrats.