My Sunday column will seek to get a little behind the scenes and analyze Davy Carter’s dramatic stretch-run sprint to the House speakership. But a few notes that didn’t make it into that:
1. If everyone is telling the truth, Carter got all 48 Democratic votes. Maybe he got the one Green Party vote. That would leave him with only three Republican votes, presumably his own and just two others, both publicly confessed — from John Burris and Charlie Collins. I thought Carter had as many as eight or nine Republican votes, including those of Duncan Baird (who’ll probably now become Joint Budget chairman) and and Bruce Westerman, the House majority leader. Maybe the vote was so well-orchestrated that Carter’s supporters knew what they could spare. Maybe all the Democrats actually didn’t vote for Carter. Who knows? It’s done.
2. Why would Democrats go with Carter? Many reasons, including his bipartisan instincts and his reasoned leadership and that Gov. Mike Beebe likes him a lot. But there’s this: Late in the campaign, a Republican state representative candidate in Batesville, Charles Fuqua, got found out for having written in a self-published book some extreme nonsense, including the idea that we would just throw free religion to the wind and round up any Muslims and deport them because of what they believe. Alone among Arkansas Republicans, Carter came forward to endorse the Democratic candidate, incumbent James McLean, who got re-elected. “How hard would that have been?” McLean asked me rhetorically, referring to other Republicans who cowered rather than join Carter.
3. I sense the fine hand of the state business establishment in the Carter coup. He is an establishment banker himself and there are business folks in the state who, while economic conservatives embracing part of the GOP agenda, worry about Koch brothers’ extremism and religious conservatives who would go entirely too far with the social agenda, as has happened in Kansas and Texas. Carter gets you a capital gains tax cut — maybe, if he can figure a way to afford it and oblige the governor somewhat on his grocery tax drawdown — but not a Church Lady assault on school textbooks and other Luciferan plots, for example.
4. There is a ton of right-wing Republican animosity toward Carter, but the only public expression of it that I have seen came on Twitter from a grandstander and showboat who can’t himself, Sen. Jason Rapert of somewhere between Bigelow and Conway. Though he is a senator and the House is none of his business, he made a post that didn’t name Carter but talked of a “traitor.” It reminded me of Rapert’s presenting a goofy bill to Carter’s Revenue and Tax Committee to do away with income taxes in the Delta and in other poverty-level counties, and Carter’s rather vigorous dismissal of the notion of creating an unequal income tax system with an exemption bigger than the rule.