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The long shots

The long shots

October 9, 2014

Vol 41 • No 5

Read the print version

Political newcomers take on Jason Rapert and Nate Bell, the Republicans Arkansas Democrats love to hate

Tyler Pearson and Chase Busch face off against against right-wing incumbents.

Leslie Rutledge and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Also, Republicans lose their minds, 5 a.m. clubs survive, county jails are crowded, the national media hive mind, the zombie apocalypse is coming to Sharp County, Asa Hutchinson is a strapless wedding dress, Clarke Tucker gets slimed and the Obamapocalypse will have to wait.

Ferneau and McConnell team up in Argenta

There's a lot going on — a lot of good things going on — at Good Food by Ferneau.

Inconsequential News Quiz: Glocktoberfest Edition

Play at home.

Seven Arkansas House races to watch

With all attention now focused on the high-octane and high-dollar races for statewide offices and for Arkansas's congressional seats, the battle for control of the Arkansas State House of Representatives is getting less attention than it deserves.

Under the rainbow

Members of Arkansas Unity carry a giant rainbow flag as part of the Little Rock Pride Parade on Sunday, Oct. 5.

My Ozark Mountain Home

Two new releases offer glimpse of an 'old, weird' Arkansas.

'Gone Girl' is vintage Fincher

Scenes from a marriage.

Doubt

The Observer is, honestly, kind of a heathen.

'Bible-based' bribery

Ted Suhl, Lord's Ranch owner, named in case involving former DHS director; companies suspended.

Cotton Land

Gene Lyons' beautiful piece on Tom Cotton ("Government dollars matter," Oct. 2) inspired me to write this ditty.

Using Ebola for partisan ends

One afternoon two weeks ago, I did my best to calm a friend who'd become fearful that her son would contract Ebola in Syria. The young man had enlisted in the National Guard. She knew the U.S. was bombing ISIS terrorists there, and that people were talking about "boots on the ground." She thought she'd heard about a Syrian Ebola outbreak on TV.

ASO at Capital Hotel

Also, Cody Canada and The Departed at Stickyz.

EPA's plan, good for Arkansas

It is settled fact that burning coal to generate electricity dramatically worsens the health of Arkansans and damages our state's environment. We know that burning coal releases millions of tons of carbon into our atmosphere, plus mercury and other deadly air pollutants into our air, water and bodies.

Imagined reasons to oppose equal rights in Fayetteville

In Fayetteville, the rights of the minority will be subject to the whims of the majority after all: The petition to put to a popular vote an ordinance that protects the civil rights of gay and transgender people has achieved enough signatures to go to referendum.

Ole Miss gave Arkansas blueprint to beat Alabama

Even as Arkansas sojourned over the weekend, the free world of SEC football spun almost wildly off its axis and triggered future storylines for the Hogs as they embark on the remainder of a schedule that was already seen as grueling.

When Johnny Cash campaigned for Winthrop Rockefeller

The rebel and the Republican.

Travis Tritt headlines Arkansas State Fair

Also, Kool Keith at The Joint; King Biscuit; 'The Legend of Boggy Creek' at The Old State House Museum; Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival; Adam Faucett, Bonnie Montgomery and others in Conway and 'The Exorcist' at Ron Robinson.

Washington Post fisks Tom Cotton's scary claims about ISIS and Mexican cartels attacking Arkansas

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler digs in to Cotton's demagoguery on ISIS and Mexcian drug cartels joining forces to invade Arkansas. The result: Four Pinnochios. Just another liberal fact-checker though, right?

Mike Huckabee threatens to leave GOP over insufficient bigotry, but still has time to endorse Bruce Westerman

Mike Huckabee is sick and tired of the Republicans waving the white flag of surrender on discrimination against gay people. He's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore.

The Main Cheese without cheese? Yes, please!

Can The Main Cheese's menu make it without the cheese? That's an enthusiastic "yes!"

Tom and Anna Cotton are expecting a baby boy this spring

The Cotton family is growing...

Fleetwood Mac is coming to Verizon Arena

Verizon Arena reports this morning that Fleetwood Mac (now including longtime estranged member Christine McVie) will be in town March 11. I know that seems that a long time from now, but tickets go on sale Monday Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. and they'll probably go fast. Prices range from $52.50-$174, tickets will be available via Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000.

Arkansas Supreme Court hears oral arguments on challenge to alcohol sales ballot iniative

Could a deadline extended because of the July 4 holiday trip up the ballot initiative for statewide alcohol sales? The Arkansas Supreme Court will decide.

Tyler Pearson and Jason Rapert face off in debate in Conway

State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) and Democratic candidate Tyler Pearson of Conway butted heads over Rapert’s proposed dismantling of the prison parole board system and one of Pearson’s attack ads at the True Holiness Saint’s Center candidates forum on Tuesday night.

Conservative advocacy groups continue to push inexplicably awful ads in attempts to reach young people

Conservative advocacy groups target young people. Hilarity ensues.

Ask Max: Is Arkansas today where you hoped it would be when you came here 40 years ago?

[embed-1] Guess what he says?

'Modern day speakeasy' 109 & Co. to replace Maduro

Maduro Cigar Bar at 109 Main St. is going to shut down in mid-November to make way for a new bar, 109 & Co. Owner Michael Peace hastens to add that the cigar bar isn’t being snuffed out, but will eventually reopen in a different space, and he hopes that space is downtown.

Is the fourth time a try for Asa Hutchinson?

The National Journal swoons for three-time loser Asa Hutchinson.

Arkansas Supreme Court denies stay request on gay marriage case

The Arkansas Supreme Court this morning denied Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's motion to stay the case challenging the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. The Court denied it without comment.

That racist Leslie Rutledge email

Blue Hog Report's Matt Campbell has unearthed an email from Leslie Rutledge's time as a lawyer with the Department of Human Services that, unlike a previous email forward that caught the attention of the Arkansas Blog and others, is going to be hard for the Republican candidate for attorney general to explain away. It's a story, which Rutledge appears to be passing along from a friend, written entirely in racist dialect.

The coalescing of the tech park

The Little Rock Technology Park has slowly been evolving from a porridge of ideas in the minds of its Authority board to something in three dimensions. It has office space on Markham, currently leased by the Central Arkansas Challenge. It has a director, Brent Birch. Soon, Birch will be sending out a brochure outlining the goals of the park, the advantages of locating in downtown Little Rock, and images of what the park will look like when build-out is complete.

Rutledge: 'simply forwarded' racist email

So if someone tells me a racist joke and I retell it, then I'm in the clear, right? That seems to be what Leslie Rutledge and her partisan mouthpiece, Jason Tolbert, are arguing in response to the release of a racist email Rutledge sent while working as a DHS lawyer in 2007.

Low-income people in Arkansas and other Southern states prefer Medicaid to private insurance (but what about the private option?)

Low-income people prefer Medicaid to private insurance, according to research focused on several Southern states, including Arkansas. The private option complicates that question — and one insurance broker says that the private option is giving much better access to care than traditional Medicaid.

Open line and video roundup

Leslie recaps the news of the day. Now over to you...

Author of email forwarded by Leslie Rutledge: people offended by email are unfamiliar "with literary technique"

Yikes.

Nate Steel comments on Leslie Rutledge controversy

Leslie Rutledge's opponent calls on her to release DHS personnel file.

Upskirt photo law hits a legal setback

A Washington, D.C., judge has dismissed a case against a man for taking photos up women's skirts at the Lincoln Memorial. It was not an invasion of privacy, the judge ruled.

Jury convicts water bottler on fraud, money laundering charge

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer's office announced a federal jury's conviction of John B. Stacks, owner of Mountain Pure Water, on three counts of wire fraud, a count of submitting a false claim for federal disaster aid and three counts of false statements. It failed to reach a verdict on three other money laundering counts in a trial before federal Judge Leon Holmes.

Texas judge invalidates Voter ID law; GAO finds such laws depress turnout

A Texas judge and comedian Lewis Black are among the latest with bad things to say about the voter ID laws passed by Republican legislatures to suppress votes of Democratic constituencies. Coming soon: What the Arkansas Supreme Court thinks about it

Washington Co. Election Commission approves language in Fayetteville LGBT ordinance repeal

The Washington County Election Commission has approved language some have called confusing for a ballot measure to repeal Fayetteville's LGBT civil rights ordinance that prohibits housing and business discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender.

Board of Education adopts school letter grades

As required by a new state law, the state Board of Education Thursday adopted a formula to assign letter grades to Arkansas schools based on performance on standardized tests and, in high schools, graduation rates.

Goodbye Prague, hello Little Rock

Yes, I'm back in Little Rock after two weeks in Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, a feast of beer, bread and architecture. I posted quite a few photos on my Facebook page.

Costco exploring possible Little Rock locations

Costco, the warehouse retailer with a reputation for quality goods and a well-paid workforce, is apparently exploring locations in the Little Rock area, with talk focusing on residential land at I-430 and Cantrell Road.

Santa Lucia opens brick and mortar

Terry's Finer Foods has gained a new partner in Pizzeria Santa Lucia, and it's a match made in pizza heaven.

Mike Maggio files for unemployment compensation

Mike Maggio, who was removed from his elected position as circuit judge on account of ethical violations, has filed a claim for unemployment compensation from the state of Arkansas. State officials are looking at the claim with skepticism. Mike Maggio, who was removed from his elected position as circuit judge on account of ethical violations, has filed a claim for unemployment compensation from the state of Arkansas. His attorney, though not directly involved, says it's now her understanding that the claim has been — or will be — withdrawn.

Coming out: A son's unsent letter to his father

Chad Griffin, the Arkansas native who now heads the Human Rights Campaign, the country's leading LGBT civil rights organization, wrote on op-ed Thursday in the LA Times for National Coming Out Day. It was about his struggle to tell his father about his sexual orientation and a letter he never sent.

Meet a victim of the Arkansas voter ID law

Think Progress introduces readers to Joy Dunn, a 79-year-old black woman whose absentee primary vote didn't count because she didn't include an ID. She's exactly the sort of casualty hoped for by architects of the ID laws, aimed at suppressing turnout of Democratic-leaning voters.

Special judge says signatures sufficient on minimum wage measure

Retired Judge John Robbins, appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court to review signatures on petitions calling for an initiated act to raise the minimum wage, has found that the signatures were sufficient to qualify the measure for the ballot.

More Clinton papers released: Include a Supreme Court nomination speech for Richard Arnold and lots of Whitewater

The release continues of papers from the Clinton White House, with previously withheld documents about Monica Lewinsky, Whitewater, U.S. Supreme Court appointments and Hillary Clinton's work on health reform.

UPDATE: 3-year-old falls into Little Rock Zoo jaguar enclosure; rescued from biting cats by zoo employees

Zoo workers rescued a three-year-old who fell into the jaguar exhibit today and was in critical condition at a hospital later suffering from apparent cat-inflicted puncture wounds.

Ray Wittenberg's 'Pornography'; "Elegance" at Mugs

Tonight's Argenta ArtWalk exhibitions include Ray Wittenberg's "The Pornography of Color" and "Energy and Elegance," work by Steven Rockwell, Kelly Furr and Karlyn Holloway. ArtWalk is 5-8 p.m. Oct. 17.

The Asa Is Smiling Edition

Famous Arkansas politicians returning to the state to campaign, Asa “the smiling triangulator,” Tom Cotton’s ISIS/drug cartel fears, Leslie Rutledge’s bad week turning into a bad month and the latest on the Arkansas Supreme Court — all discussed on this week's podcast. With special guest Jay Barth.

Forest Place arsonist gets 16-year federal sentence

Federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson today sentenced Lacey Rae Moore to 16 years in federal prison for setting fires at the Forest Place Apartments, one of which destroyed a building. She also was ordered to make $12 million in restitution.

The short week open line

The open line includes today's news headlines by video and more silliness from the Huckster.

Kool Keith celebrates his birthday at The Joint

Fans of '90s and '00s underground hip-hop were treated to a special performance of Kool Keith at The Joint on Thursday. It got pretty weird, as was to be expected from an eccentric performer like Keith.

Art Night with a musical bent: Johnny Cash, Amy Garland, Shiloh Sacred Harp Shape Note Singers

Tonight's 2nd Friday Art Night gallery after-hours event from 5-8 p.m. features art, music and an exhibit about Johnny Cash.

Homer's: where elite (and regular folks) meet to eat

Check out the latest in our Eat Arkansas series of videos, a collaboration with Greg Spradlin and Camp Friday Films.

State Board of Education ponders the future of school districts under its control

The ADE Board on Friday received its quarterly reports from three school districts that are currently under state control due to troubled finances, inferior academic performance or both. The record is mixed. What will happen if the five-year deadline to return a district to local control should run out and the district is still not meeting its academic objectives?

Sen. Joyce Elliott comments on racially tinged e-mail forwarded by Leslie Rutledge

Sen. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock says Leslie Rutledge ought to apologize for forwarding an e-mail she received from a friend about a supposed true story of a woman seeking protection for a child. It is a stretch not to see the racial dimension in the note written in black dialect, Elliott writes.

Survey: Three legislators say they'd arrest federal employees for implementing health law. UPDATE: Senator says she doesn't recall answering the survey

Three Arkansas legislators, including Sen. Missy Irvin, have been listed as telling the Campaign for Liberty they supported arrest of federal employees implementing the federal health care law. Really.

David and Barbara Pryor's 'Antique Roadshow' for their son

The Washington Post sent a reporter on the campaign with David and Barbara Pryor, parents of Sen. Mark Pryor, and their self-styled "Antique Road Show" to help him win re-election. They are running often into the changing face of Arkansas politics.

AETN debates set next week: Mark Martin will dodge it

AETN plans a series of TV debates next week, leading with the big race for U.S. Senate. But a pressing question remains. Where is Secretary of State Mark Martin? Why hasn't he confirmed an appearance? Has anybody even SEEN Mark Martin lately?

Rev Room to serve up some Brotherhood

When Chris Robinson Brotherhood stops by Rev Room on Friday, Oct 17, you'll not only be able to experience the sights and sounds of the Black Crowes' frontman's latest project while the Crowes are on "indefinite hiatus," you'll also be able to buy a special beer that the band partnered with San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Company to create.

Lawsuit challenges referendum on Fayetteville civil rights ordinance

A group working to preserve Fayetteville's historic city civil rights ordinance, with protection for gay people, has filed suit charging numerous irregularities in the petition process to call a referendum on the election. It wants the election voided.

Saturday night open line

An open line for a football Saturday night.

TV spending in Pryor-Cotton race hits $20 million

Spending on TV ads in the race for Mark Pryor's U.S. Senate seat has hit almost $20 million, with nearly a month of spending to go. And this is only a portion of the sum being spent on the race.

Bill Clinton loves politics; and the world is his stage

Bill Clinton never leaves the stage. Current articles dwell on his continuing political passion along with the good deeds of his global initiative and family foundation.

Notable marriages in the New York Times include LR native Will Trice

Will Trice, a Tony Award-winning producer and Little Rock native, was among those who made the Sunday New York Times wedding page.

The Leslie Rutledge open line; and a rumor about a coming gubernatorial endorsement

The open line includes news of black legislators' plans to call down Republican attorney general nominee Leslie Rutledge for forwarding a racially tinged e-mail about a family seeking state social services. Also: a rumor about a coming gubernatorial endorsement.

UAMS develops Ebola protocol: UPDATE

UAMS has developed a protocol for handling Ebola patients; events in Dallas have added "urgency" to training there in the unlikely case someone presents at the hospital with symptoms.

Pryor, Cotton debate today on AETN; Mark Martin missing the week's debate action

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton, plus two third-party candidates will debate on AETN today. It's one of a series of AETN debate that will give voters a look at candidates for all the top offices on the November ballot except one — Secretary of State Mark Martin is nowhere to be found.

Eating a path through the State Fair

From gyros to fried everything, we post some of our favorite foods at the Arkansas State Fair.

Death reported in storm near Ashdown

Fox 16 reports a death from a possible tornado in a storm near Ashdown, part of a system moving through the state with rain and high wind.

Patrick Henry Hays and J. French Hill face off in debate for U.S. Congress Second District

Our recap and liveblog of this morning's debate between Pat Hays and J. French Hill, vying for the Second District U.S. Congressional seat. Libertarian Debbie Standiford also participated.

Ghosts of Faubus, Part II: Legislators who'd arrest people who implement Obamacare

Dozens of Arkansas legislative candidates in 2012 and again in 2014 signaled they supported a state law to allow the arrest of people who attempt to carry out the federal Affordable Care Act. This takes nullification to an extreme even Orval Faubus didn't contemplate.

Democrats take heart from their poll on state constitutional offices

Democratic Party internal polling provides hope for its candidates in statewide races, though undecided voters remain the key here as they do in bigger races for governor and U.S. Senate.

Jack Butler on writing for the Arkansas Times

Max Brantley, who was then editor at the Times, was at the induction proceedings for the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. I was being inducted at the same time as Verna Lee Hinegardner, whom I had met through The Arkansas Poets' Roundtable. I think Max was there to deliver the speech. I don't think he was being inducted. My memory has become even poorer than it used to be, so I'm not sure. But somehow I suspect Max would not have spent his time praying to be inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame.

Praise for Catholic statement on gay 'partners'

A gay rights group is lauding a statement from Catholic leaders that refers to homosexual couples as partners rather than sinners. It's a sign of the pope's inclusiveness, the Human Rights Campaign said.

Zoo cat exhibit to remain closed during city review

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore has asked new Assistant City Manager James Jones to lead an internal review of the Little Rock Zoo big cat exhibit and emergency response procedures as a result of last week's accident in which a three-year-old boy was seriously injured after falling over a railing into the exhibit.

Ross calls out Asa Hutchinson for tax cut retreat

Mike Ross has jumped Asa Hutchinson for his retreat from a grandiose income tax cut promise that the state never could have afforded.

Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton face off in AETN Senate debate

Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, vying for a U.S. Senate seat, are debating at 2p.m. Libertarian Nathan LaFrance and Green Mark Swaney will also participate. Refresh this post for real-time updates and consider this your debate thread.

Supreme Court will hear no oral arguments in challenge of minimum wage law

The Arkansas Supreme Court today issued a brief order denying oral arguments in the lawsuit filed by millionaire Jackson T. Stephens Jr. to get a proposed increase in the minimum wage removed from the ballot. That means the case will be decided on arguments in briefs and the findings of a special master that supporters of the initiated act had met petition signature requirements.

A.G. opinion suggests line of attack on constitutional amendment

Would a proposed constitutional amendment that gives the legislature authority over state agency rules give the legislature new power over administrative rules of the Game and Fish and Highway Commissions? The attorney general declines to give an opinion. But it raises a good question for voters to think about.

A political open line; plus more on the evils of voter ID laws

Here's today's open line, with video news roundup and some devastating commentary on what's wrong with voter ID laws by federal Appellate Judge Richard Posner.

Debate summaries for the age of Twitter

The outcomes of key political debates in 100 words or less. Three actually: Pryor and Hays.

It's not all bad at Hall High

After last week's brawl at Hall High — in which seven students were charged and one taken to jail — I feel like it's only appropriate to mention a much happier event at the school this morning, the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration.

Teachers hit Cotton with ad on student loans

The National Education Association has made a TV ad buy to highlight Rep. Tom Cotton's vote against the federal student loan program, a vital program for students that he himself used as a student at Harvard. Issues do matter.

Same-sex marriage: Good for the economy

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has issued a study that says legal same-sex marriage in Arkansas would be good for the economy.

Bill Clinton plans more campaigning in Arkansas

Former President Bill Clinton will return to Arkansas for campaign rallies Oct. 17-19 in Hot Springs, Hope, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Forrest City.

Announcing the Arkansas Times Film Series at Ron Robinson Theater, featuring Judge Reinhold

Next week, the Arkansas Times is collaborating with the Little Rock Film Festival to present a brand new monthly film series at Ron Robinson Theater. We're kicking it off at 6 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 23 with a special showing of "Beverly Hills Cop," featuring Little Rock's own Judge Reinhold, a.k.a Detective Billy Rosewood, who will do a Q&A and answer all of your burning questions about the making of the film.

Leslie Rutledge gets a rough ride in TV appearance

Leslie Rutledge, the Republican candidate for attorney general, seems likely to add 40/29 to her Do Not Return Calls list after this interview. She got tough questions and flailed at the answers.

Guest Mix: Joshua Asante

Romance ruins everything. It pervades into every fiber of our social tapestry and fills our minds with the mirage that is wholeness. We are obsessed with “having it all”, whatever that means individually. And when we cannot have it, we feel a varying sense of loss that often propels us toward self injury. At many different points in my stumble I have felt this pang.

Property owner opposed to Costco development at Cantrell-I-430

I mentioned yesterday an exploration by Costco, the upscale and successful warehouse store chain, of expanding into Arkansas with a location in Little Rock, perhaps a site at the northwest corner of Highway 10 (Cantrell Road) and Interstate 430.

Tom Cotton absolutely refuses to answer questions about the 200,000 Arkansans on the private option who would lose coverage if Obamacare repealed

Tom Cotton loves to talk about repealing Obamacare, but refuses to talk about what would happen if Obamcare was actually repealed. His preferred policy would kick 200,000 people off of private option coverage. He just won't admit it.

UPDATE: Republicans complain about Nate Steel work for city of Nashville

The Republican Party is raising legal questions about state Rep. Nate Steel's contract to do legal work for the city of Nashville. He's been doing this for three years, but the issue surfaces a few weeks before the Nov. 4 election in which Steel opposes Republican Leslie Rutledge in the race for attorney general. It's based more on politics than sound law.

Attorney general defends deadline extension for minimum wage proposal

Given permission to file a friend-of-court brief, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today did so in defending Secretary of State Mark Martin's extension of the July 4 petition deadline until the next regular business day July 7.

4th District debate underway on AETN.

AETN is livestreaming its 4th District congressional debate.

Stephens Media downsizing continues

Suppose you worked for a newspaper and found out through a Google alert that your building was for sale.

Term limits group attacks constitutional amendment

Arkansas Term Limits has made a TV ad buy to oppose a proposed amendment that would strengthen legislative ethics laws, but also loosen term limits.

Over-under on number of times Tom Cotton says "Obama" in tonight's debate with Mark Pryor?

Rep. Tom Cotton will face off with Sen. Mark Pryor in Fayetteville tonight for a one on one debate. We'll be covering it here on the blog, but the big question: can Cotton top the 74 times he said "Obama" during yesterday's debate? The Pryor campaign had a little fun making a perseveration video.

Open line, plus some Huckstering

The open line, video roundup and news of some fresh Huckstering.

Democrats strike populist tone against banker French Hill

As expected, Republican millionaire banker J. French Hill's starchy debate appearance on AETN against Democratic congressional candidate Pat Hays produced irresistible fodder for the Arkansas Democratic Party.

Education Committee leaves NSLA funds flat for fourth year, waits on teacher salary increase

The Joint Education Committee of the legislature met today to craft the K-12 schools budget for the coming 2015 session, but punted action on the biggest piece of the puzzle — a cost-of-living increase in the line item for teacher salaries — until a later meeting, to be held on Oct. 27th.

Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton face off in one-on-one debate in Fayetteville

Here we go again. For the second time in two days, Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton face off in a debate. This time it's one on one. Refresh this post for liveblog updates, and consider this your open debate thread.

UPDATED: State Board of Ed. warns LR School Board: Work together, or face takeover

Administrators from the Little Rock School District (LRSD) and several members of the LR School Board today appeared before the Academic Distress subcommittee of the State Board of Education to talk about the possibility of a state takeover. The State Board warned that it will be keeping a close eye on the LRSD's ability to govern itself in the coming months.

Independent expenditure says Cotton a poor crop

A friend passes along a billboard message purchased near Jonesboro by Steve Strauss, an Arkansas native who lives in New York but keeps up with Arkansas politics.

The debates continue — without Mark Martin

AETN will tape a debate by two of three secretary of state candidates today. As usual, incumbent Republican Mark Martin won't show his face. No wonder. He'd have some embarrassing questions to answer.

UPDATE: A debate worth watching: Candidates for attorney general

Candidates for attorney general will debate on AETN today. Leslie Rutledge, the troubled Republican nominee, has a lot of explaining to do. When Doyle Webb is your chief defender, you've got legal problems.

Mesquite makes the difference at Roland's

Hickory-smoked 'cue is the standard around Hot Springs, but one place goes against the grain.

Susan Inman rips MIA Mark Martin

Susan Inman, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, opened her appearance on AETN's debate this morning by emphasizing incumbent Republican Mark Martin's absence from the debate and the new Blue Hog reporting on Facebook evidence that Martin spends dozens of work days at home in Prairie Grove, not at work in the Capitol.

The money count: Ross still leads

Democrat Mike Ross outraised Republican Asa Hutchinson in September, widening his total direct fund-raising edge to $2.4 million.

Accused killer claims innocence; says Beverly Carter's death 'accident'

KARK has interviewed Arron Lewis about the slaying of real estate agent Beverly Carter. He said he did not murder Carter and that her death was an accident. He also said he had not abducted Carter, that she had accompanied him willingly.

More than 211,000 have gained health insurance coverage via the private option

According to updated figures released from the Arkansas Department of Human Services released today, 211,611 have gained coverage via the private option, the state's unique plan using Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for low-income Arkansans. The policy has helped cut the uninsurance rate in Arkansas in half. What would Tom Cotton do for them?

Claire Bailey no longer director of state Department of Information Systems

Claire Bailey is no longer director of the Arkansas Department of Information Systems, the state's chief technology officer. She'd worked for the state since 1991. The department has been the source of some contention of late.

Trees, art, education: Growing champion classrooms thanks to NMWA

Writing, drawing, poetry and natural science all come together — in Arkansas A+ style — in the "Growing Champion Classrooms" project of the state committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The committee, supported by Entergy Arkansas, the School of Forest Resources at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, the Arkansas Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, will provide lesson plans and full-color poster reproductions of Linda Palmer's drawings for her exhibition, "Champion Trees of Arkansas: An Artist's Journey," to Arkansas A+ schools, schools that use arts-infused teaching across the curriculum. Arkansas A+ is an initiative of the Thea Foundation, the North Little Rock nonprofit that promotes both arts education and arts-facilitated education.

Didn't she ramble? RIP Ginger Atkinson

I learned today of the death of Ginger Atkinson, 93. She drove fast, wore no ordinary jewelry and swore like a sailor, including at Sunday school. She made a career in the law when few women did and was a vigorous advocate well into her 80s.

Another debate, another Republican fixated on Barack Obama

A foe of Barack Obama or an attorney who understands the office of attorney general. That choice emerged in today's debate by attorney general candidates.

Baseline bank branch robbed

Little Rock police say a man who indicated he had a weapon robbed the US Bank branch at 6004 Baseline Road about 2 p.m. today.

Tom Cotton thinks high-risk insurance pool would fix things fine if he kills Obamacare. Wrong.

Tom Cotton really goofed during last night's debate on health insurance. Think Progress sets him straight.

Here's the open line. Let's vote

Today's open line and video roundup.

What happens when Jason Rapert stops being polite...

Jason Rapert being Jason Rapert (with video).

Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down voter ID law

The Arkansas Supreme Court today held that the 2013 voter ID law as unconstitutional on its face. It affirmed a similar ruling by Circuit Judge Tim Fox in a unanimous decision.

Tom Cotton would repeal the private option — and cut more out of Medicaid, ARKids on top of that

Tom Cotton refuses to acknowledge that repealing Obamacare means kicking 200,000 Arkansans off of their private option health insurance coverage. When pressed, he dodges and says he'd start over and block grant Medicaid. What he's not telling you? What he means is eliminating the private option and then cutting Medicaid even further, using block grants to slash funds used to provide health coverage to the the most vulnerable citizens in Arkansas — elderly people in nursing homes, the disable, kids in ARKids, and very poor parents.
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