It seems that state Rep. David Sanders of Little Rock may have written one column too many in his days as a pundit here at our Arkansas News Bureau.
You remember those happy times when the dapper David was alleged to be the conservative counterpart to my perfectly moderate self.
Here’s the one-two-three-four of what seems to have happened to Sanders, the quintessential Republibaptist, now a citizen politician whose day job is raising money for the private school at the First Baptist Church in Little Rock.
1. Through a strange set of circumstances, Sanders got out of the column business and into direct electoral politics. He got himself elected to the state House of Representatives in the tea party tidal wave last year, representing a district extending from west Little Rock into Saline County and Hot Springs Village.
2. The decennial U.S. Census required the state Board of Apportionment to redraw legislative districts this year for the next election cycle, and that board consists of Gov. Mike Beebe, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and an outnumbered and irrelevant Republican, Secretary of State Mark Martin.
3. That is to say that a confluence of factors provided that Sanders’ district would get redrawn by two people, Beebe and McDaniel, about whom, in his column days, he had written essays that were personal and, I can tell you, resented by the subjects.
One suggested that Beebe’s boy got a shale-drilling job because of the gubernatorial connection. Another called into question the forthrightness of McDaniel’s running for attorney general and, soon after getting elected, divorcing his wife.
Let me tell you about politicians generally: They do not like criticism, period, but they especially don’t like it when it extends to their personal family lives.
It’s as if I were in the Legislature and, oh, Tim Hutchinson got to redraw my district. He’d draw a straight line from my house to Harrison and over to Bella Vista.
4. Beebe and McDaniel unveiled a House redistricting plan last week that dips into Sanders’ existing district to extract his house and immediate neighborhood and jerk them into a new district that is majority black, thus Democratic and thus not naturally amenable to your every-day Republibaptist with tea party inclinations.
“What do you think?” Sanders replied when I asked him if he thought this was personal.
I think I answered that in my one-two-three-four.
Sanders doesn’t want to blame those personal columns. He wants to cite his arch-conservative legislative record, including his vocal opposition to early versions of Beebe’s prison reform bill that led to a little public set-to between Sanders and the governor, and the governor’s press secretary, near the Capitol tunnel.
Sanders is — how shall I put this? — the kind of guy who can draw attention to himself and get under one’s skin, even, over the years, mine a time or two, though not lately.
For example: It’s not enough for Sanders to be an arch-conservative Republican. He has to go and pen a public letter pleading with that odd Texas governor, Rick Perry, to run for president, and then get a bunch of his kook caucus colleagues to sign it.
In the end Sanders will be merely inconvenienced, not undone, by this personal slight from on high.
He has a family of seven in a house comfortable for a family of five, and he was figuring to move anyway. He can relocate by a mile and be snugly back in his safely Republican district. He intends to do that.
Beebe and McDaniel did much this same thing to state Sen. Jason Rapert, Republican of Bigelow, and, oddly, some kind of distant relative of Sanders.
Rapert’s neighborhood got jerked over into a Conway-based Senate district. But he can win there, most likely, or he can take an apartment in western Little Rock, a part of his original district, and get re-elected.
How do I adjudge this personal redistricting by Beebe and McDaniel?
It’s tacky, yes, but all they accomplished was to expedite one guy’s move and cause another guy to think about moving as one of two viable options.
Sanders’ kids will appreciate the additional space.