Mike Wickline reports in this morning’s D-G that the Arkansas House Republicans have selected Rep. Marcus Richmond of Harvey as their new leader. He told Wickline that “there is no blue wave coming in the Arkansas House” and that the GOP will increase their majority. That seems like an implausible promise given that the Republicans already control 76 seats to 24 for the Dems. We’ll see.

Richmond succeeds Rep. Mat Pitsch of Fort Smith as Majority Leader. Pitsch is running for state Senate. Richmond, completing his second term in the House, defeated two freshmen, Rep. Carlton Wing of North Little Rock and Rep. Jeff Williams of Springdale, in voting that the caucus conducted earlier this month.

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Richmond, a retired Marine and cattle farmer, was also involved in the dog breeding business (he was CEO of his family-owned company American Pet Registry until his wife took over). Richmond has used his power in the legislature to fight efforts to regulate dog breeders — what he called “an Animal Rights extremist agenda” (Arkansas of course is well known for horrific puppy mills). Here’s more on Richmond’s company, which has existed since 1992 to provide a stamp of approval for breeders who don’t follow American Kennel Club protocol.

You may also recall Richmond from the ludicrous debate over Rep. Brandt Smith’s bill aimed at the non-existent problem of Sharia law invading Arkansas. Richmond delivered one of the most, um, memorable performances I’ve seen in the well of the Arkansas House. “I can assure that in places like Pakistan, places like Saudi Arabia, and many of these other countries, there is nothing there that is civilized,” he said. He also raged that they were very bad drivers.

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“To think that something you have heard, and may believe, would prevent this from happening in this country, I cannot agree with,” Richmond said. “You cannot tell me anybody here can predict what will happen in the future. … Look at the enclaves that come in and the way that people are controlled when they come here.”

In closing, Richmond said that the bill was really about saving the children: “You only have to go to the Chop Chop Square one time in Saudi Arabia to realize that there’s a brutality. … You may not think that anything has happened in the past here in the state of Arkansas, but you cannot guarantee that something will not happen in the future. And the protection of children — to keep them from being kidnapped out of this state — if this saves one kid, it’s worth the effort.” Phew, the bill passed, our kiddos are safe from the barbarians.

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Anyway, this is the dude that is now leading the House GOP in Arkansas.

Speaking of Smith, the sponsor of the Sharia bill, he was elected House GOP Whip. Quite a team.

Wickline points out that both Richmond and Smith declined to support the Medical Services appropriation that recently passed in this year’s fiscal session, which provides the funding to continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program (Richmond voted present, same as a no).