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CNN commentator and former Huckabee advisor Alice Stewart has died

Alice Stewart, the longtime political commentator who additionally served as advisor and communications director for a number of Arkansas Republicans, died over the weekend according to CNN. She was 58.

Stewart graduated from the College of Georgia with a double main in political science and journalism. She initially got here to Arkansas to be a weekend anchor at KARK. Leaving the information for politics, Stewart served as communications director for then-Gov. Mike Huckabee earlier than holding the identical position for Huckabee throughout his 2008 presidential run.

She tried unsuccessfully to turn out to be government director of the Republican Occasion of Arkansas in 2009. The next 12 months, Stewart was spokesperson for then-State Sen. Gilbert Baker’s marketing campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

“That 12 months there have been eight Republican Senate candidates within the major,” Jason Tolbert, vice chairman for finance at Ouachita Baptist College and former political commentator, mentioned. “The occasion was in a development stage, so there have been many recent faces engaged on campaigns. Alice used her expertise to assist many people that have been model new to politics. Due to this, she earned the respect of so many Republicans that began round this time.”

Following Baker’s marketing campaign, Stewart labored as communications director for then-Sec. of State Mark Martin for the primary six months of 2011. It was on this position that she and I first butted heads (repeatedly) over Martin’s use of state autos and the office’s interpretation of the Arkansas Freedom of Info Act.

Former Arkansas Occasions editor Max Brantley famous a distinction between Stewart and present Arkansas Republicans. “She was pleasant, even to radical leftists like me, as a decidedly conservative however not dogmatic cable TV pundit,” he mentioned. “As a consultant of a sequence of Republican politicians in her earlier profession?” he requested rhetorically. “Simply following orders, I assume you may say.”

Stewart was higher identified outdoors of Arkansas for her work on presidential campaigns. She was communications director in 2012 first for former Rep. Michelle Bachmann, then for former Senator Rick Santorum’s marketing campaign after Bachmann dropped out. In 2016, Stewart reprised her position as communications director for Mike Huckabee’s second presidential marketing campaign, earlier than becoming a member of Senator Ted Cruz’s marketing campaign shortly earlier than Huckabee suspended his run.

In between her presidential marketing campaign gigs, Stewart was a frequent pundit on native and nationwide political tv. Arkansas Occasions contributing author David Ramsey recalled squaring off with Stewart on television and on Stewart’s radio present.

“She was a personality,” Ramsey mentioned. “Greater than most, she actually had fangs all the way in which out when the digital camera turned on after which was all smiles when it turned off, a very good vibe for that form of factor.”

Ramsey’s expertise matches my very own. I first met Stewart in individual in 2014, when we were on Capitol View to discuss then-Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s campaign-finance scandal and potential resignation. We’d by no means been notably cordial with each other over e mail when she labored for Martin, and I anticipated an identical vibe in individual.

As an alternative, I used to be greeted with a pleasant smile and fun. We chatted about politics and life typically whereas we waited to movie the section. When the cameras stopped rolling, she thanked me for my work. We laughed about Darr and different political absurdities as we walked to the parking deck. As we parted methods to go to our respective automobiles, she stopped.

“You do good work, by the way in which,” she mentioned. She paused a few beats. “I imply, I don’t agree with most of what you write, but it surely’s good. Hold doing it.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “Hold studying, although; I would simply persuade you one in every of lately!” She was nonetheless laughing on the concept when she reached her automotive.

We bumped into one another a number of extra occasions over the previous decade, and she or he was all the time heat and pleasant. She all the time made it a degree to inform me she was nonetheless studying my work usually however that I hadn’t but satisfied her of something.

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