Sen. Keith Ingram of West Memphis, one of only seven Democrats in the 35-member of the Senate and a reliable voice for sound politics, has had enough. He won’t seek re-election and the current political climate has everything to do with it.
“My decision to leave the political arena at the end of this year was not one I made hastily. From my time as mayor of West Memphis to my early days in the legislature, I was determined to be a builder. And for over 12 years, I’ve tried to do just that. I come from a time when your decision-making was guided by what was best for your district and the state and not what was expedient for the party or one’s next campaign. All too often, the good of the people is held hostage by those who are reckless, selfish, and shortsighted.
“In recent years, and especially during the last session, I felt like I spent more time fighting than building. I spent more time trying to defeat foolish, divisive measures than working to pass substantive, meaningful legislation. And with Arkansas politics moving even more-so toward one-party rule in a D.C. win-at-all-cost style, I fear my ability to affect positive change at the state level would continue to diminish.”
… “As other term-limited legislators and those who have chosen to step aside, I hope that eager, forward-thinking leaders will take our place. The Arkansas legislature does not need more partisan tribal leaders; there are far too many of those walking the halls now. The legislature needs leaders who aren’t there to draw lines but to solve problems, cooperate and seek answers from outside echo chambers. While so many politicians race for the partisan fringes, Arkansans desperately need fresh perspectives to help steer us back to the center before it’s too late.”
It’s a loss for the Democratic Party. The businessman moved comfortably in establishment circles, spoke plainly but politely and could be counted on to make tough votes with the tiny Democratic minority on hot-button Republican wedge issues.
Ingram, who followed his father and brother as an Arkansas legislator, served two two-year terms in the House and joined the Senate in 2013. He could have served at least four more years. Despite his minority status, he managed to sponsor some successful legislation even in 2021.
A Democrat is in the wings to run for Ingram’s Senate seat — state Rep. Reginald Murdock of Marianna. James Valley of Helena-West Helena might run for Murdock’s House seat.