- Brian Chilson
- CARTER: During the session.
House Speaker Davy Carter is not running for governor, which took a significant amount of sizzle out of his speech at the Political Animals Club today (Carter himself told reporters “I had to give a different speech than I had planned”). Carter was loose and funny — he opened with a Letterman-style Top Ten Reasons I’m Not Running For Governor. Best entries: “#10 Do not want anyone to find out that I’m the ghostwriter of Nate Bell’s twitter account” and “#2 Gov. Beebe and I are secretly working with Johnny Allison, the federal government, Michael Moore, George Clooney, and the former KGB to take our conspiracy tour around the other 49 states to secretly implement Obamacare under this clever and disguised name of the ‘private option.’”
Carter has improved as a public speaker pretty dramatically over the course of the last five months and he would be a formidable candidate in a general election. On nearly every issue he has voted as a standard Arkansas Republican, but he has a knack for non-substantive, stylistic appeals to the center (publicly cussing former Rep. Jon Hubbard, tussling with Sen. Bryan King, reprimanding Rep. Nate Bell, urging a focus on bread-and-butter economic issues rather than hot-button social issues). Today’s speech was no exception, with a call for “more elected officials from the middle and less from the fringe.”
I suspect there are a good number of center-right voters that pulled the lever for Beebe in general elections that would find Carter appealing. The problem is getting to the general, and Carter acknowledged that he would have had a tough road in a Republican primary. That was one factor in his decision, he said.
Talking to consultants on how things would need to be done in the traditional way to win a Republican primary…I’m who I am. I don’t know if the Republican party in a primary is willing to elect a guy like me. I don’t know. Certainly I thought about all that.
The main substance of his speech today, by the way, was devoted to political process issues. Carter expressed strong disapproval of term limits and support for the idea of an open primary system — no division by parties, top two finishers move to the general. Of course, whatever the merits of those ideas, let us note the obvious: they would be a boon to the political future of one Davy Carter.