Tuesday, March 06, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Big-tent party not open to all

One of the most dramatic changes we’ve seen since The Leader started 25 years ago is the Republican Party’s takeover in Lonoke County.

The changes began slowly, with an occasional Republican GOP justice of the peace and then another getting elected to the Lonoke County Quorum Court. Former Rep. Randy Minton (R-Ward) started making waves in the legislature and suddenly the floodgates opened. More and more Republicans replaced Democratic county officials, who are now becoming an endangered species in Lonoke County.

The quorum court has been Republican-dominated for years. County Judge Doug Erwin, a Republican freshman, ousted a veteran Democrat. Even the coroner’s job could go to a Republican this year.

Four Republicans and two Democrats are running for sheriff to succeed Jim Roberson, another Republican who succeeded a Democrat and who is retiring after 10 years in office.

A couple of former Democratic office holders are trying to make a comeback by switching parties, although local GOP officials question their sudden conversion. Toby Troutman, the son of former Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, a Democrat, may not be eligible to run for the quorum court as a Republican because he’s facing a forgery charge. He could clear his name, but probably not before the primary.