Candidates filed their first campaign reports yesterday for the three at-large seats open on the Little Rock City Board.
Rachel Herzog of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette summarized them all here, but I’ll add just a bit.
The three at-large seats on the 10-member board were designed to ensure that the business establishment controlled city politics. The at-large races are more expensive. Combine them with a couple of high-income neighborhoods dominated by business interests and the board pretty comfortable reflects establishment thinking. Minorities are a rarity in at-large seats.
City political dynamics changed considerably this year when Frank Scott Jr. that combined his African-American base with some strong crossover help from liberal neighborhoods and business establishment people.
That coalition might come into play again in the race for Position 9, a seven-person race for the seat held by retiring Gene Fortson.
If money decides the seven-person race, it will come down to Antwan Phillips, an African-American lawyer, and David Alan Bubbus, president of David’s Burgers. Phillips started earlier and raised $49,836 while spending about $30,000. Bubbus has raised $49,435, but has spent more than $113,000 and has loaned $25,000 to his campaign.
Here you can see, as in some school board races, Republican influence in a non-partisan race. Bubbus’ PAC contributors include the Arkansas Realtors, a powerhouse in the Republican-controlled legislature; Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin’s PAC and a PAC associated with Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Maximum contributions came from Lisenne Rockefeller and her son Will, as well as $250 from Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill. Megadonor Republican Ronald Cameron gave him $2,500. Another megadonor Republican, Warren Stephens, is on his list, too, along with other well-known Republicans including former candidates David Sterling, Jim Keet and Phil Wyrick. Another obvious Bubbus influence is support from the western part of the city.
In addition to partisan and potential geographic issues, there are also City Hall politics to consider. Director Lance Hines reportedly was influential in Bubbus’ decision to run, which doesn’t necessarily mean that Bubbus would join Hines as someone often at odds with Mayor Scott. Nor does Phillips’ close friendship with the mayor and his chief of staff, Charles Blake (a podcast partner with Phillips) necessarily mean that he’d be a reliable supporter of the mayor. But they are considerations.
I haven’t been able to get Phillips’ October report from the clerk’s office yet, but he’s a lawyer in a major downtown law firm and I’d expect some of his colleagues to chip in. Herzog noted a contribution from Little Rock developer Hank Kelley to Phillips and I was told by one former Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce chairman, Gary Smith, that he’d be supporting Phillips. UPDATE: Lots of lawyers in a diverse mix.
In this race, Leron McAdoo and Rohn Muse report contributions or spending in the $10,000 range. Three other candidates — Dale Pekar, Glenn Schwarz and Tom Horton — have spent under $500.
And back to the business establishment:
In Position 10, long-term incumbent Joan Adcock has raised almost $47,000. Her contributors read like the guest list to a Chamber of Commerce banquet.
I’d reported earlier that one Adcock opponent, Sheridan Richards, had raised a decent $28,000 and assembled a group of leading African-American clergy in support. The other challenger, Greg Henderson, has raised about $3,700.
And speaking of establishment money, it was no surprise that incumbent Director Dean Kumpuris, well-connected by family history and medical practice to the old-line business establishment, would pile up more money than anyone from all the usual suspects in his race for re-election to Position 8. He reported more than $103,000. He raised it in big chunks — 50 contributions of $1,000 or more and several at the $2,800 top end.
His opponents? Russ Racop has raised about $1,200 and Phillip Bryant has spent $775 of his own money.