Twitter exchanges this weekend featuring Republican Rep. Bob Ballinger suggest, if you didn’t already know it, that Washington-style tribalism is vigorously alive in the Republican-controlled Arkansas legislature.

Ballinger vowed no legislation by representative-elect Denise Garner of Fayetteville would pass the Senate, where he’ll take a seat in January. He need not read any to know it.


Garner incurred Ballinger’s ire by her criticism of talk that Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, whom she defeated, might get a job in the Hutchinson administration, along with former Rep. Duncan Baird. She also vowed to get to the bottom of the Ecclesia College scandal, in which Ballinger had a role. He shipped the college state tax money. He got legal work on real estate deals financed by the money. His law partner represents the college and also its felonious former president, Oren Paris III. Ballinger seems to take the Ecclesia rips personally. Voters certainly should have seen it that way, but dark money flooded in to help Ballinger beat Sen. Bryan King.

(Aside: King didn’t make a lot of friends in the legislature. With the fullness of time and federal subpoenas, we now know part of his problem was shining a light on pets of people like Ballinger and felonious kingpin Jon Woods. The auditing committee that King chaired produced the first public inspection of the General Improvement Fund scandal that snared six former legislators in federal investigations.)

Anyway, here’s how it went. Garner tweeted about the Collins job rumor:


“This is extremely concerning. The voters wanted these guys out of govt.”

Ballinger retorted:

“3/4 of the voters in the State of Arkansas would take these guys over you 10 out 10 times.”

Fact-check: Garner defeated Collins 55.4-44.6. As for Baird, he was defeated in a Republican primary race for state treasurer in 2014, so it’s hard to measure general public opinion. But the winner, Dennis Milligan, a Republican, got 53 percent of the vote, well short of 75 percent.


Garner replied:

Merry Christmas Bob! I look forward to working with you in the state legislature to ensure no more #EcclesiaCollege scandals #BeBest 

That’s when Ballinger got hot, with the tweet at top vowing to beat anything Garner offered, sight unseen.

When some, including Times columnist Autumn Tolbert, called Ballinger on his  partisan tone in the tweet at top, he followed up:


Garner responded this way to Ballinger’s blast.

Going to be fun in January, right?

PS: There WILL be Garner ideas that won’t sit well with people like Ballinger and many other Republicans. Particularly gun nuts. Note her comment this weekend on the proposal for a stand-your-ground law in Arkansas. Such laws have tied prosecutors’ hands on many a questionable gun homicide in states with them. We have a fully adequate self-defense law on the books.