Talk Business/Hendrix College polling shows statewide contests in the Republican primary up in the air because of lack of familiarity with the candidates, with one exception.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, the best known statewide candidate after Republican gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson, has a solid lead in his primary race for lieutenant governor to face Democrat John Burkhalter. The polling shows Griffin with 53.5 percent; state Rep. Andy Mayberry with 14.5 percent and Debra Hobbs with 6 percent. A sizable 26 percent are undecided.
In the primary race for auditor, state Rep. Andrea Lea leads with 32 percent to 12.5 percent for Ken Yang and 55.5 percent who don’t know. The winner will face Democrat Regina Hampton.
Finally, and most unsettling, is the primary race for treasurer. There, a huge 75.5 percent don’t know. Dennis Milligan had a nominal lead, 15.5 percent to 10 percent for Duncan Baird. Unsettling? Baird is the class of the race (something I utter knowing that it’s a likely disincentive to many Republicans.) He’s ethical, serious, moderate in demeanor (if not in bedrock political philosophy) and served flawlessly as the House’s Joint Budget leader. Milligan? He’s the guy who made a stupid remark about 9/11 (he thought maybe we needed another to illustrate the worth of George W. Bush). He’s the guy who made an extortionate, clandestine effort to force Baird out of the race in the famous doughnut shop meeting. He’s a clown. Remember the Tony Orlando/Yakov Smirnoff endorsement? He’s been a mad publicity grabber down in Saline County. In some respects, a Democrat would wish for a Milligan victory. His checkered record could give hope to a truly fine Democratic candidate, Karen Sealy Garcia, a Hot Springs city director and a CPA with huge corporate financial experience.