Circuit Judge Rhonda Wood of Conway has announced that she’ll try again this year to win a seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. She lost a race two years ago to Judge Jo Hart. She’s running this year for a seat currently held by Cliff Hoofman, who’s serving by appointment and can’t run for the seat.
The 2010 election was controversial because Wood touted the fact that her name appeared on a slate of judicial candidates recommended by Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb and she also employed robocalls by former Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee in her campaign. Questions linger about the legality of robocalling in Arkansas, though prevailing sentiment is that it would be unconstitutional to stop political calls. Ethical rules for judges clearly say, however, that they are not to seek, accept or use partisan endorsements.
Wood also sent up red flags by using Tyson Food’s workers comp chief, Allyn Tatum, to introduce her around the district and got early financial muscle from Tyson. The Court of Appeals hears Workers Compensation Commission appeals.
Judicial elections are non-partisan in Arkansas, though candidates frequently find a way to tip voters off to their political leanings.
Wood should have a pretty good idea what NOT to do this time around. (This year, she throws around words like “family values” and “conservative” as her dog whistle. Got it.)
UPDATE: Wood will have an opponent and he’ll also carry the valuable judge title — Searcy County District Court Judge Mitch Cash of Marshall. Here’s his letter.