A little bipartisanship: Democrat Leah Williams, a member of the Bentonville City Council running for state rep in District 93 in Northwest Arkansas, has received an endorsement from former Republican Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, who represented northwest Arkansas in the U.S. Congress from 1967 to 1993. 

Williams is running against far-right Tea Partier Rep. Jim Dotson. Williams is a former Walmart employee and wife of a Walmart employee, emphasizing education and economic development in her campaign. Dotson, one of the most right-wing legislators in the state, passed one bill last session


The dynamics in the race are interesting. Walmart money backed an unsuccessful primary challenge against Dotson. Big business Republicans aren’t always happy with purist ideologues like Dotson. Would that be enough to make a comparatively more palatable Democrat electable in Benton County? Still perhaps something of a long shot. Interesting that Hammeschmidt, who comes from the old school of establishment Republicans rather than the Tea Party insurgent wing led by folks like Dotson, has endorsed the Democrat. 

His statement: 


I endorse Leah Williams for State Representative District 93 in Bentonville, AR. Last week my good friend Senator Uvalde Lindsey introduced me to Leah. I found her personality and enthusiasm to be infectious. Leah shared with me that “she wants to bring common sense and collaboration back into politics, the same common sense and collaboration that she learned at home when she was a child, and she cannot accomplish great things for Bentonville or our state if we are not working together.” I believe she’ll do that and look forward to watching her succeed.

Hammerschmidt, the first Republican elected to the House of Representatives in Arkansas after Reconstruction, is one of only two politicians to defeat Bill Clinton in an election, fending off a challenge from the then-28-year-old future president back in 1974.