Rep. Nate Bell has been quoted here and elsewhere as saying he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2016 and he repeated that in a Facebook message over the weekend.
Under the new so-called “ethics” amendment, term limits were extended. Previously, three terms would have been the limit for Bell in the House and he’s completing his third. Under the new amendment, which also gave legislators a 150 percent pay raise, he could have served 10 more years in the House.
I suspect Bell will be an exception. Amazing how many people who hate government and supported term limits serve a few terms in the legislature and decide they are indispensable public servants. Bell said, in part:
During my first campaign in 2010, I promised my wife and our daughters that if they would allow me to serve for 3 terms, I would not seek additional elected office. Phyllis, Tori and Hannah have supported me despite the financial hardships, loss of privacy and other considerations that go along with service in the legislature and I am forever grateful to them for allowing me the flexibility necessary for me to be a part of Arkansas’s state government for the past 4 ½ years.
Bell worked at the job, I’ll give him that. And he wasn’t utterly predictable, like some members of the Republican caucus.
But I’ve had plenty negative to say about Bell, part of the reason, I guess, that he didn’t respond to my Twitter question. Will his wife, Phyllis, be staying on in her $50,000 a year legislative lobbying job with Gov. Asa Hutchinson. And might the politically inclined Phyllis Bell, whose past work includes labor the Koch-backed political lobby in Arkansas, perhaps consider a run for her husband’s seat? She made a losing race for county office last year. The Bells have a daughter on U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman’s staff, too. Nothing says reducing the size of government like getting three family members on the government payroll.
Whatever the future holds, don’t forget that Bell still has 20 months left in this term, which includes at least one more regular fiscal session of the legislature and perhaps a special session. There are many more opportunities for extraordinary moments.