LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr changed his tune within days. He announced Friday night that he would step down on Feb 1.
"Everything was documented; it was just documented incorrectly," Darr said last Tuesday, in reference to his campaign misconduct, but just three days later, he released a resignation statement. In part, it read:
"Effective February 1, 2014 I will resign as Lieutenant Governor and I submit that resignation to the people of Arkansas, not an elected official. I have spoken with Speaker Carter and Senate Pro-Tempore Lamoureux to notify them of this decision. They agree with me it is in the best interest for me, my family and the state at this point. I respect these two men for their concern: not just for the state but for me and my family."
"Mark is a friend, and I feel bad for him, but I think he probably did the right thing," said State Representative Bob Ballinger (R-Ark., 97).
Democrats agreed but not with malice.
"It's a sad day for the state," said state representative John Edwards. "No one likes to see these kinds of things occur. I mean they erode the public trust in our leadership."
And, State Representative Warwick Sabin (D-Ark., 33) said it's not necessarily a reflection on the GOP.
"I think it's difficult to extrapolate the sins of one person onto their party," Sabin said.
Edwards said Darr's resignation has saved the state from having to endure an impeachment process. In a statement, Governor Beebe called Darr's decision "the right thing for the state."
Other Republicans shared the sentiment.
"I think Mark absolutely made the right decision," said State Senator Bart Hester (R-Ark.). "It's been something he's been dealing with for several weeks now."
"I think it's just going to be able to help everybody to be able to focus on the fiscal session issues and not having impeachment hanging over their heads," Edwards added.
Looking forward, the next step is setting up a special session to replace Darr. The legislature may also consider a law during the fiscal session which might prevent the need for a special election.