Former State Representative David “Bubba” Powers believes one never says never where politics is concerned.
And, as to his future in politics, now that term limits have ended his run in the Arkansas House of Representatives, Powers does admit he has not immediate political plans, despite what might be a temptation to bring a Senate seat to Hempstead County.
Powers firmly rules out any question of running against State Senator Larry Teague, D-Nashville, and he does not reside in Republican Senator-elect Jimmy Hickey's district.
“Teague should be a senator as long as he can be,” Powers said. “He is a friend of mine, and I would never run against a friend; he is too effective, too good at what he does for me to consider that.”
Powers is, perhaps, a bit disillusioned with what politics has become in Arkansas.
“I don't know what the future holds for me politically,” he said. “I enjoyed what I did tremendously. I liked the results from what I did, it's kind of a culture shock to suddenly not be doing it anymore. I know I'll have some withdrawal watching what goes on in the legislature. But, politics in Arkansas has changed during my terms; obviously, it's not dominated by one party any longer.
“What I would like to see politics get back to is the best person represents you in Little Rock; the best person serves as governor, and for the voters not to be so much engaged on philosophy, or some sound bite they heard on television,” Powers said.
He has little time for political figures whom he said “stubbed their toe.”
“It has nothing to do with stubbing their toe in the well of the House,” Powers explained. “But, in not keeping a high enough standard in their personal lives. We should expect the best from the folks who are going to go to Little Rock, sit in the courthouse, or city hall, wherever, that are going to affect what goes on with, not just our tax money, but the future of our most precious thing we have, our children and grandchildren.
“Politicians should be held to a higher standard,” he said. “The taint I see on politicians now, some has been developed by themselves, some has been developed simply because it's too easy to see something on television, a blog, a tweet, or whatever, and develop a working opinion on that.”
Does Powers believe that Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has violated that trust?
McDaniel recently admitted not only to marital infidelity in his capacity as attorney general, but the circumstances of that infidelity have raised other questions, despite McDaniel's insistence that there are no issues of trust involving himself.
“I certainly don't have any insight into whether there is more smoke,” Powers said. “I think he has taken a step in the right direction, and asked for forgiveness where he needed to ask, to his wife and to the voters. I have not had any conversations with the attorney general. I was supportive of the attorney general when he came out in July because he has done some good things as attorney general.
Page 2 of 2 - “But, he has had a failing, and the question is not whether a bunch of legislators are going to support him; although I suspect they will,” Powers said. “He is going to have answers; and, his apology and asking for forgiveness may be good enough for everybody out there. Politically, the question that has to be answered is whether the voters are going to accept it.
“There is a high standard; and, I firmly believe that,” he said. “And, I don't want to give the impression that I'm perfect, or that I know any perfect people; but, when you're in the public eye, it's a huge responsibility. Where I come from, it was a huge responsibility to my father when he fought in World War II in the Pacific, and he came home and raised five kids on a skimpy salary, and my mother was a waitress, they had huge responsibilities. And, as children, I always thought their standards were pretty high, and that's how I went into the legislature.
“I think that's how you conduct yourself when you're in the well of the House and when you're away from the House chamber,” Powers said. “We're not perfect; the attorney general is not perfect.
Ultimately, the voters are going to decide. I think he would be an excellent policy maker; but, the big question is going to be: How damaging was this to him with the voters?
“It's a question I don't think I could answer; I don't think he could answer,” Powers said. “Going forward, what I would like to see is that everyone understands that when you're sworn in and take that oath of office, it's a huge responsibility. I think it's wise for everybody to understand that.”
Powers said he will not “pass judgement” on McDaniel's political future.
“I think I'm just like a lot of people, I want to determine if he can be effective in his campaign,” he said. “I think he could be an effective governor; he was an effective attorney general. There is a slip up here, and that will be answered down the road. We'll see.”
Powers admits he is something of a traditionalist.
“I liked the old days when you went out and shook their hands, and kissed the babies, and rolled up your sleeves, and got to know people,” he said. “Local politics is a little bit easier because you're known by your reputation. That probably helped me, because I don't know that there is anyone who doesn't know me. Name recognition is good; but, there has to be something behind that recognition.”
Powers has given some thought to broader political opportunities, such as Congress.
“I thought about it, just like everyone did,” he quipped. “But, at this point, I think you have to know yourself better than anyone else; and, I don't think I want to live in Washington, D.C. I would never say never in getting back into politics, but I don't see anything on the horizon.”