by Mark Carter
Growing up, Arkansas politics entailed November general elections often loaded with unchallenged Democrats. Most of the time, it seemed as though Democrats faced their toughest challenges in the primaries.
For decades and despite the state’s relative conservative nature, Republicans were limited to pockets of conservatism mostly in Benton County and western Pulaski County. The Democratic Party was entrenched in Arkansas politics. How entrenched, you ask? Tommy Robinson launched his political career as a Democrat; that’s how entrenched.
Slowly, incrementally, that began to change in the late ‘90s and culminating with GOP control following the 2012 midterms. Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, whose daughter graces our cover this month, suggests that Arkansans perhaps began to recognize then that Republicans weren’t carpetbaggers descending from points north with evil intent. These days, it’s the GOP that wields the power in local politics.
Inside, we take a look at the journey of Arkansas from blue to red. Govs. Mike Beebe and Huckabee were gracious enough to lend their thoughts. It’s all cyclical, of course. Right? The Democrats held power for more than a century in Arkansas. How long can this red wave last?
How many times have Hog fans wondered or even said aloud, watching as a Razorback star of the past made another big play on the court or gridiron, “You’ve got a job for life in this state!”
So, we wondered, is it true? Despite the football program’s recent struggles, it could be argued that being a Razorback remains the pinnacle of celebrity in this state, or close to it. Could status as a former Hog actually help in the business world? It’s the same, of course, in other states obsessed with college sports. We talked to a few Hogs about it. And we’ve got a list of several prominent former players doing business in Arkansas who may be flying under the radar.
Questions or concerns? Email me at MCarter@ARMoneyandPolitics.