Politics and Brain Surgery - The Year of the Challenger

Posted by: JustinFreeman on Monday, April 2, 2018
By Jon Moran, Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce VP of Government Affairs Once, on an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, Jed Clampett lamented that he needed to have a long talk with his nephew, Jethro Bodine, about his interest in politics. Jethro quickly told his uncle that was unnecessary because of Jethro’s recent decision to be a brain surgeon. I mean, if politics is considered a science, then just how hard can brain surgery be anyway? It’s safe to say that very few political scientists accurately picked the results of the 2016 elections. It’s also likely that very few of them will accurately predict the outcome of the 2018 elections. Results of recent elections continue to show that the mood of the American electorate is still very hard to gauge. Just when someone thinks they’ve got it figured out, well, the election goes the other way. One thing is for certain in Northwest Arkansas - the political dynamic of the region is changing almost as fast as the region is growing. To give you an example of what I’m talking about, let’s look at the 2016 legislative elections in Northwest Arkansas. In 2016, there were 17 candidates running either as incumbents or challengers in the legislative races in both Benton and Washington Counties. Most of the challenges that year took place within the Republican primary. So, basically the legislative elections were over after the primary in 2016. In 2018, there are 41 candidates running either as incumbents or challengers in 11 legislative districts in Benton and Washington Counties. Only three of those races contain challenges to incumbents in the Republican primary. If those three incumbent Republican legislators survive their primaries, they will go on to face Democratic or Libertarian opposition in the General Election. Women are also making a huge statement in the 2018 legislative elections in Northwest Arkansas. Thirteen of the 41 candidates running in the NW Arkansas legislative races are women. Nine of those 13 women are Democrats or Libertarians. This points to another changing dynamic this year, which is that it has been a very long time since the Democrats have fielded this many candidates in Northwest Arkansas legislative races. The Northwest Arkansas legislative elections are going to be fun to watch this year. Now, I just need to go find a brain surgeon to tell me how it’s all going to turn out on Election Night this November.


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