I’ll say again that newspaper endorsements don’t count for much, but if they have value, they are worth more down the ballot.

That said, I was prepared this morning to scoff at the acreage the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette spent on city board and legislative endorsements this morning. On the legislative seats, they could have left it at: “We always endorse Republicans —  if they oppose medical rights for women and love charter schools.” They also could have cut the paternalistic, gratuitous head pats given several women candidates they DID NOT ENDORSE. Better luck next, time, ladies.

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But then came news of a decided change of pace in the Northwest Arkansas edition of the Democrat-Gazette. It has a separate editorial page and it endorsed a Democrat for state legislature in blood-red Northwest Arkansas. Ronetta Francis is a sterling candidate in her own right, but she also opposes one of the worst in the legislature, Sen. Bart Hester.

Said the editorial:

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“He’s become one of a small but growing group of lawmakers who don’t even bother with making their cases to voters in political forums or media coverage. And answer a challenging question or have a difficult conversation? No thanks.

Hester’s opponent for reelection, Democrat Ronetta Francis, has made a career of having some of those hard conversations. As a lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then in corporate compliance, she was required to look closely at conflicts, disputes and long-held differences of opinion. We think that experience would translate into a lawmaker who can approach legislation with an eye toward practical solutions rather than simply picking a side before the conversation even starts.”

Hester is a homophobe, an enemy of immigrants, an enemy of sound planning, a self-serving legislator and a bully, just to name a few. He’s suddenly unleashed a tidal wave of advertising, which would indicate he’s feeling the heat.  Funny thing about that spending: He hasn’t filed a campaign expenditure report since March 31. Top contributors at that point were the Walton grandsons and a couple of the PACs set up by disreputable lobbyist Bruce Hawkins.

Francis, who according to most recent reports had outraised Hester, demonstrates more grass roots support in contributions than Hester’s corporate-friendly lineup. It includes many women who work in the ranks at Walmart and Sam’s Club. They say the world up there is changing thanks to the influence of Walmart and other growth engines. They’ve been saying that about Texas for years, too. But let us hope.

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Meanwhile, back to the endorsements in Pulaski County by a newspaper that is based in Little Rock and draws the largest share of its dwindling circulation from the state’s most populous county.

For those who tend to take an opposing view to that of the Democrat-Gazette editorial page, here are your choices in the races in which they endorsed others:

State Senate District 32

Clarke Tucker

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State Senate District 34

Alisa Blaize Dixon

State Rep. District 32

Ashley Hudson

State Rep. District 38

Matthew Stallings

State Rep. District 39

Kayla Applegate

They’re all Democrats. They’re all working hard. They are sterling candidates. They have a more populist view of public service. I can only vote for one and it’s one of the easiest votes I cast, Clarke Tucker.

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Oh, and those women who got the head pats?

One was the lawyer Ashley Hudson, maybe one of the most exciting of the new faces of the Democratic Party. So nice of them, too, to mention School Board candidates. One was Ali Noland, a dedicated and informed foot soldier for local control of the Little Rock District. She’s opposed by a fine fellow who the D-G seemed to tout because his father and grandfather once held elective offices. And then there’s Dr. Bao Vang-Dings, a scientist and educator who suffered what many took as a racist slight in the D-G editorial endorsing her opponent (he speaks English, the editorial said). About the opponent, you need only to know that he joined in a  sneak legislative attack with a senator who doesn’t represent the school district to extend state control in Little Rock. A cutout for Johnny Key we do not need.

UPDATE: I want to move into the main item a good comment from a reader about further positive developments in the NWA version of the newspaper. Maybe we ought to move up there.

The Ronetta Francis endorsement in the NW Ark D-G was yesterday. Today it also endorsed re-election of Democratic Reps. Whitaker and Clowney of Fayetteville and Rep. Godfrey of Springdale. It also declared no preference in another House district in Springdale where a GOP Rep is seeking another term. All this is at https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2020/oct/22/nwa-editorial-for-fite-whitaker-clowney-godfrey/. Also, the NW Ark D-G did not endorse Trump although the LR edition did. The northwest D-G hasn’t endorsed anyone for president.