TOP STORY >> Huck’s main adversary is not running
(This column, which appeared here on Jan. 17, 2008, won first prize in the Arkansas Press Association’s Better Newspaper contest. It placed second in the National Newspaper Association’s contest.)
Mike Huckabee’s most formidable opponent is not running for president.
Her name is Lois Davidson, and she could knock him out of the running faster than any of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.
Davidson is the Missouri woman who says — truthfully — that Huckabee is responsible for her daughter’s death because he let Wayne Dumond out of prison and let him move to Missouri, where he raped and murdered Davidson’s daughter, Carol Sue Shields. Dumond, who was convicted in the Shields case, almost certainly raped and murdered another woman, but he died in prison before he could be tried for that case.
Davidson appears in a TV commercial being aired in primary states — but apparently not in Arkansas — criticizing Huckabee for favoring Dumond’s release, and that has upset the former governor. He says he’s “appalled” that she went public with her grief and that she is being “exploited” by his opponents who’ve distorted his role in the case.
Huckabee, who never bothered to read the trial proceedings, has tried to hide his complicity in the Dumond fiasco for years, but Davidson wouldn’t let him insult the memory of her precious daughter.
“I assure you, Mr. Huckabee, I am not being exploited,” she answered back. “I am fully aware of the actions I have taken in attempting to inform the public of your role in my daughter’s rape and murder. I have spent over seven years thinking about this. I am not a dupe. But you, Gov. Huckabee, were duped time and again by convicted felons who once released from prison by you began hurting people again.”
The facts are these: Huckabee thought Dumond was railroaded by the Clinton “machine” and lobbied publicly and behind the scenes on Dumond’s behalf.
Former Governor Jim Guy Tucker had reduced Dumond’s sentence from life to 39 years, but Huckabee thought that was still excessive.
At a highly unusual meeting with the parole board — no other governor had made an appearance there in recent memory — Huck said Dumond had gotten a raw deal and pushed for his earliest release, saying Dumond had been in prison too long.
Parole board member Charles Chastain disagreed, telling the governor, “That’s what happens when you rape a cheerleader in a small town.”
As far as Huckabee was concerned, Dumond was the victim, not the woman who claimed she was raped.
Huckabee believed Dumond deserved a new start in Missouri and convinced the parole board to let him go. Only Chastain voted no.
Huckabee thought justice had been served. Lois Davidson doesn’t think so. Addressing Huckabee, she said her daughter was “raped and murdered by a serial rapist that you wanted freed from prison. Please be honest about the role you played in releasing my daughter’s killer.”
Although Huckabee may have felt let down when his man was arrested again, no ambitious politician will admit he has blood on his hands — unless he still believes in Dumond’s innocence.
Maybe he thinks Dumond was unfairly convicted in Missouri, too, a victim of another political machine that had spread from Arkansas into Missouri.
But any sensible jury would reach this verdict on Huckabee: Guilty as charged.