McDaniel's departure throws governor's race wide open

LITTLE ROCK (Arkansas News Bureau) -- Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's departure from the governor's race has shifted attention to newly announced candidate Bill Halter and other potential Democratic candidates, with observers wondering who among them, if any, can equal McDaniel in political stature.

McDaniel had raised $1.4 million before dropping out Friday, weeks after admitting he had an extramarital affair with Hot Springs attorney Andi Davis in 2011. As attorney general, he also had a public forum, something Halter has not had since leaving office as lieutenant governor in January 2011.

Hal Bass, a political science professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, suggested McDaniel's decision threw the race for the Democratic nomination wide open.

"Before all this Andi Davis stuff arose, McDaniel had pretty effectively cleared the field," Bass said. "McDaniel was the Democrat that was most likely to withstand the Republican tide. With him out of the picture, it's much more wide open. Halter does have the name recognition, he does have the resources. I doubt he's going to get a free ride."

Click here for more on this story from the Arkansas News Bureau.