Saturday, March 1, 2008

Our Money Is On the Old Guy

Usually, we try to stay out of the cesspool of Republican primaries, both in casting votes and commenting thereon. Sometimes, though, it is like that macabre compulsion to slow down and look at a car wreck, especially since we hardly ever get good R-feuds in Washington County.

Benton County has a truck load of them this year with contests for County Judge, County Sheriff, and at least three state House seats. So far, the race for Sheriff has been the most, uh, interesting. Three candidates — Kelley Cradduck, Andy Lee and incumbent Keith Ferguson —made a joint appearance yesterday at a country club in Bella Vista before a meeting of Benton County Republican Men who didn't have to be at work during the day.

Former Sheriff and unlicensed preacher Andy Lee is always good for a laugh and a certain amount of shame for those who voted for him in the past. Yesterday he boasted, "
I do not accept the fact that our jail is full," as if facts have ever been of interest to him in campaigns or in office. If they were, he would have known there were 78 state prisoners in the jail Friday awaiting transfer and for whom there is currently no room in state prison. Good thing he didn't know that, or he might have pulled a Tommy Robinson. Lee has been trounced in his last two attempts to get elected to anything. He needs to save his filing fee, drop out of the race, and seek professional help.

Then there is Kelley Cradduck, whose limited law enforcement work has been surfing MySpace
and FaceBook pages seeking clues to appropriate gang attire. He should be immediately disqualified, because he is irreparably tainted by having been a silent and complicit member of the troubled Rogers Police Department. He did nothing to expose or curtail his buddies who conducted illegal searches, made ridiculous pre-crime arrests for wearing sun glasses, lied during internal investigations, engaged in patterns of racial profiling, confessed to sexual indecency with a child, and videotaped themselves using a department Taser to abuse a cow. With no evident regard for the Constitution, Cradduck did not even try to stop crimes or arrest criminals in his own department, so how can anyone expect him to do any better policing the entire county?

That leaves Benton County with the incumbent Sheriff Keith Ferguson, the best of an otherwise sorry lot. He means well, is no grandstander, and is no hypocrite. He has done a fair job with pedestrian imagination, but
he could reduce jail overcrowding if he could curb the enthusiasm of local city cops from luring additional potential criminals into the county. He has not brought media ridicule and collective embarrassment to the citizens, nor does he tolerate frat house behavior, low crimes, and misdemeanors by his deputies. More importantly, he has been endorsed by Virgil, a font of good judgment and political wisdom, who is Benton County's premier blogger.

If you are registered in Benton County and are not ashamed to vote in the Republican primary on May 20th, you could do a lot worse than reelecting Sheriff Keith Ferguson.

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