The question about who’ll make coming Public Service Commission appointments reminds me of another wrinkle available to outgoing governor Mike Beebe.
He’s in office through the Jan. 13 swearing-in of Asa Hutchinson.
New judicial terms start Jan. 1. That day, two members of the Arkansas Court of Appeals, Robin Wynne and Rhonda Wood, will rise to seats on the Arkansas Supreme Court. Beebe will have the opportunity to name replacements
Beebe’s office has repeatedly told me the governor hasn’t yet made his mind up on whether he’ll give his old Senate buddy, Cliff Hoofman, another appointment to the Court of Appeals. The betting among insiders is now solidly behind the proposition that Beebe will favor Hoofman.
Beebe appointed Hoofman to a 10-year term on the powerful Highway Commission in 2007. He got a two-year appointment to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals in 2011. In 2013, he got a two-year appointment to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Is a four-bagger in Hoofman’s future? I’d wager a cup of coffee on it. It’s worth just under $150,000 at current pay levels, but an independent citizens commission is about to study and make recommendations for raises in the pay of legislators, state officials and judges.
Hoofman lives in the district seat that Wood now holds.
Hoofman eliminated a potential complicating factor when he recused from the pending appeal of the ruling striking down the same-sex marriage ban. If the findings of dozens of courts around the land influence the Arkansas Supreme Court, it should strike down the ban too. It is no guarantee, of course. But getting off the case — after a private chat with same-sex marriage foe Sen. Jason Rapert — eliminated any possibility Hoofman might have such a controversial vote on his resume if and when Beebe gives his old pal another two years o the state payroll.