Trent Garner plots a new course. Kasten Searles

The combative state senator from El Dorado, infamous for his proposals to legalize running over protesters in the streets and putting child rapists to death, has taken a job as a public defender in Union County.

A call to the Union County public defender’s office confirmed his employment there. Garner appears on the state employee roster as an attorney specialist for the Arkansas Public Defender Commission, at a salary of $59,999.94. His salary as a state senator is $44,365.80 plus per diem expenses. Garner’s term expires when the new senator takes office on Jan. 9, 2023. Democrat Garry Smith and Republican Matt Stone, Garner’s father-in-law, are running for the seat.

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Information on Transparency.Arkansas.gov confirms Garner’s new career path.

We haven’t been able to reach Garner for comment, but when we do, we will ask about the date of hire listed in the state database that says Garner began the public defender job in 2017. Guessing it’s a typo. Garner did begin his stint in the state senate in 2017.

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Before that, Garner worked with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton‘s campaign and served in the military. Notably, one of Cotton’s main talking points as he beats the culture war drum is that we should have more people in prison, not less. Can’t help but wonder what Cotton might think about Garner’s new, more pacifist calling.

We’ve seen Garner’s softie side in action before, although only in glimpses. During his time at the Arkansas Capitol he pushed a number of bills on veterans’ rights.

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Garner was an outspoken advocate in 2021 for Arkansas’s new “stand your ground” law, which he said he wished he could have invoked when he and his friends were mugged in a strip club parking lot during the time he was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In the wake of the slaughter at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Garner again stepped up as a vocal advocate for gun rights and against any gun safety legislation.