Gov­er­nor catches a ‘right wing fire­brand’ as a GOP pri­mary foe

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - OPINION - May­lon Rice

It is re­ally not news that the ‘far-right’ and more con­ser­va­tive mem­bers of the Repub­li­can Party were up­set with Gov. Asa Hutchi­son, his pol­i­tics and his ser­vice as the state’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

What is sur­pris­ing is that such a wild can­di­date – on such a nar­row is­sue – gun con­trol is now at­tack­ing the state’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

If you have not heard of her, Jan Mor­gan, the Hot Springs’ gun range owner in cen­tral Arkansas, you will soon.

She is like an ear-split­ting stac­cato of thun­der of a rapid fire clip of a .357 mag­num. No, make that an even louder can­non-like re­tort of a .44 cal­iber hand­gun.

She al­ways man­ages to de­liver up a stream of ver­bal venom, spewed at all who do not agree whole­heart­edly with her view­points.

And if you are a mem­ber of the me­dia or in po­lit­i­cal of­fice, the “spray” of her crit­i­cism and the thun­der of the gun­fire sim­ply in­crease.

With the 2018 re-elec­tion cy­cle com­ing to life, it was in­evitable that Gov. Asa Hutchi­son would have some sort of in­ter­party pri­mary and then, pos­si­bly a gen­eral elec­tion chal­lenge from the state’s Democrats, the Lib­er­tar­i­ans or per­haps a hap­less Green Party can­di­date.

Democrats have been “mum” on who they will of­fer up, if any­one, to chal­lenge Hutchin­son’s re-elec­tion. It seems the Hutchin­son poll num­bers show the re­cent trans­for­ma­tion of Arkansas over the last three elec­tion cy­cles have all but guar­an­teed a statewide GOP vic­tor.

The more con­ser­va­tive wing of the Repub­li­can Party, with some of its own mem­bers sit­ting in the state’s con­sti­tu­tional of­fices and on the Supreme Court bench (although hidden be­hind the ju­di­cial cur­tain of non-par­ti­san), could be a fac­tor in Hutchin­son’s sec­ondterm try. And sev­eral seem in ca­hoots on Mor­gan’s run at an in­ter­nal party fist­fight.

But, let us get back to what we know as of this scrib­bling.

Jan Mor­gan is a non-tra­di­tional Repub­li­can. She an­nounced her for­ma­tion of an ex­ploratory com­mit­tee, not on the state Capi­tol steps, not at a state Park or well-known Arkansas landmark, but on the Lou Dobbs Show on Fox TV.

She is aligned with the far right Con­duit for Ac­tion (which has a thick, if not com­mand­ing pres­ence in North­west Arkansas). She has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing rapid fire in what she wants to say and later can­not for the life of her re­mem­ber what she just said. Sound fa­mil­iar?

Now the im­me­di­ate naysay­ers will spout that “Asa has been a good gov­er­nor. He has the poll num­bers, so don’t worry.”

But he will worry.

As he well should. Could the ‘fire-brand’ can­di­date dam­age his base? Ab­so­lutely.

Could she ac­tu­ally help the other can­di­dates – Green, Lib­er­tar­ian and oh, my, even a weak-sis­ter Demo­crat in the Gen­eral Elec­tion, after Asa man­ages to thwart her ef­forts in a bloody in-state pri­mary? Yes, she could.

Does that bother a can­di­date like Ms. Mor­gan? Ab­so­lutely not.

Her run­ning is not about do­ing a good job as gov­er­nor. It is not about try­ing to rep­re­sent the peo­ple of the state. It is about the same mantra the far right is loudly singing against Asa Hutchin­son on the eve of the 2018 po­lit­i­cal sea­son.

The far right wants gov­ern­ment sub­si­dized Health Care, in any form, to go away.

The far right wants tax re­lief. For whom we do not know. For the rich? Prob­a­bly. For the Mid­dle-Class? They al­ways say, “Yes,” but never com­plete that prom­ise.

The far right want the “laws of the na­tion,” up­held when it comes to im­mi­gra­tion.

And the far right says Asa has been ‘weak’ in that he didn’t sign an an­tiSharia law bill.

She says after both the state House and the state Se­nate are Repub­li­can con­trolled and four years of a Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor with a GOP base of leg­is­la­tors that our state is mov­ing too slowly and in the wrong di­rec­tion to suit the far right.

I once pre­dicted that Ms. Mor­gan would fiz­zle out.

But of late, she has hired a GOP strate­gist.

And her gun­fire-like vit­riol at Gov. Asa Hutchin­son’s per­for­mance con­tin­ues.

— May­lon Rice is a for­mer jour­nal­ist who worked for sev­eral north­west Arkansas pub­li­ca­tions. He can be reached via email at may­lon­trice@ya­ The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

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