The very low-key announcement last week by Arkansas' truly low-key U.S. Senator John Boozman for his reelection bid was an indicator of many things.
In all fairness, it was Boozman's time to announce for a third term as the state's senior U.S. senator.
It was also, in all fairness, an open week in the Arkansas political calendar. Last week was void of all the other preemptive and preelection posturing for the 2022 political season.
And Boozman's announcement was necessary to set the political stage as questions began indeed looming, especially this one:
"What will Asa do in 2022?"
The answer to that last question is still, some say, up in the air.
So what will our retiring governor do next?
Is there another political campaign in Asa Hutchinson? Sure.
Is there another office he desires? Possibly so. Minds are whirling.
So how did we get to this "fork in the road," political observers ask? Really, it is just the natural scheme of all things political.
Did we expect John Boozman to seek another term in office? Some did and some didn't.
I try to remain neutral on this topic, but I did not think the Fort Smith native, former Razorback lineman and two-term U.S. Senator would go back to Washington.
Why, you ask?
I have to feel that Boozman, even as the state's realistic senator, one who does the work of the constituent back home well before posturing, indeed fighting for air time on CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America or Face The Nation, is getting tired of all the partisanship in Washington D.C.
I never felt he was a die-hard Trump man, not John Boozman.
I know he had a much-publicized "dust-up" with Texas's maverick U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz a few years back. A moment when Cruz and others were wanting to prolong a government shutdown for political motives, Boozman called out the young Cruz in a not-so-friendly way to get on with the business of the nation and quit playing politics.
Boozman, who enjoys a fair, hard-working, calm political appearance -- thanks in large to his most notable campaign director, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who directed his most contentious campaign years back -- set the "gold standard" Boozman now enjoys.
And it is not hard to see why Boozman outranks the junior senator from Arkansas, one upstart Tom Cotton -- a real rival flame thrower and political climber. No one in his right mind (and that is right as far-right on the conservative scale) would doubt Cotton would jettison out of his senate seat to become a cabinet member (in a GOP administration) or anything military or even run for U.S. president.
But that's not John Boozman, the working man for Arkansans.
Dressed in his signature light blue button-down cotton shirt, a pair of fresh, starched khaki pants and loafers, Boozman on TV (and that is where it counts) is as comfortable walking the rows of a soybean field as greeting veterans on a city street.
Veterans love John Boozman for all the right reasons. They may respect Tom Cotton's urgency for all things military, but the veterans of Arkansas -- they love John Boozman.
Asa Hutchinson, as our governor, has suddenly mastered the impromptu news conference, after all those covid-19 daily briefings. He has learned to be softer and easier to interview -- thus all his recent appearances on Meet The Press, Face The Nation and other national channel news shows. Asa has also modulated himself -- staying true to GOP fundamentals -- while being less of a former Donald Trump disciple.
So, will Asa oppose Boozman's third run at the U.S. Senate seat -- somewhat of once a watershed mark in Arkansas politics?
I think not.
It would be too risky, costly and not exactly winnable.
Does Boozman have any real kinks in his off-the-rack armor? Well, he does like to travel and has never seen a junket to Europe that he and his family didn't want to visit and revisit. Of course, stating that, I'll be accused of being mean to say so.
But it's almost a no-brainer that Boozman will (forgive the pun) cruise to another term.
But what about Asa?
-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.