Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Irony Colors Arkansas Governor's Fate for 20 Years, Tucker, Clinton Have Vied in the Political Arena

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Irony Colors Arkansas Governor's Fate for 20 Years, Tucker, Clinton Have Vied in the Political Arena

Article excerpt

THERE IS A TOUCH of irony in the fate of Jim Guy Tucker, indicted on the request of a special Whitewater prosecutor whose central mission was to investigate Bill Clinton.

Since they arrived on the political scene two decades ago as the twin golden boys of Arkansas politics, Tucker, who rose to be governor, and Clinton, who rose to be president, fought and reconciled countless times, two bright and ambitious young Democrats plotting and maneuvering for position. Throughout their mercurial relationship, nthe one thing they were unable to do was break free of each other. Now Tucker has stuck to Clinton even in the White House - or the other way around.

Although the charges on which Tucker was indicted Wednesday - defrauding a Small Business Administration loan company - have no direct tie to Clinton, the troubles are inextricably linked. If there had been no Whitewater independent counsel, there probably would have been no charges against Tucker, who came under investigation because he did business with many of the same financial institutions and individuals associated with Clinton's Whitewater dealings. Conversely, Tucker's legal battle now can only plague Clinton, because it brings the larger Whitewater saga back into public view.

Tucker, 53, is four years older than Clinton and was one step ahead of him at the start of their political careers. He was elected attorney general of Arkansas in 1974, while Clinton ran for Congress and lost. But it did not take long for Clinton to take the lead in their long-distance race, a lead he never relinquished. In 1976, Tucker was elected to Congress, and Clinton replaced him as attorney general. Two years later, Clinton ran for governor while Tucker ran for the Senate in a tough primary field that also included then-Gov. David Pryor. According to consultant Richard Morris, Clinton's top political adviser in those years, young Clinton was so intent on cutting short his rival's career that he spent much of the primary season drafting commercials and developing anti-Tucker themes for Pryor. …

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