- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2010

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. | A retired Army colonel running for a U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas is criticizing a state law that prevents him from using his military title as a nickname on the ballot this spring. In Arkansas, that’s a privilege reserved for monikers such as Porky, Bubba and Two.

Conrad Reynolds, one of eight Republicans running for the Senate, hoped to point out his military credentials by filing candidacy papers as “Conrad ‘Colonel’ Reynolds,” but election officials wouldn’t allow it.

Under state law, already-elected officials can use their titles on the ballot. People seeking office can use a nickname - and many do when no one can recollect their given names. But the law prohibits professional or honorary titles from being used as nicknames.

Mr. Reynolds said the law is unfair to him and to voters. He said he thinks the law should allow military ranks to be included as part of a candidate’s title or a nickname. Mr. Reynolds said he would consider challenging the state’s decision.

“People say, ‘Hey, Colonel.’ They call me that all the time,” Mr. Reynolds said. “It’s one of those rare instances where it’s both” a title and a nickname.

For Harold Kimbrell, a Democrat seeking a House seat in western Arkansas, the choice was simple. He’d go by the name he says he’s gone by since the fifth grade: Porky.

“I was short, fat and had little ears, and they started calling me Porky Pig,” Mr. Kimbrell said. “The name just stuck, and I started to agree with them.”

Mr. Reynolds is squaring off in the Senate race against a field that includes U.S. Rep. John Boozman and state Sen. Gilbert Baker - both of whom are allowed to use their elected titles on the May 18 primary ballot. They’re vying for the nomination for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Tim Humphries, general counsel for the secretary of state’s office, said that because of the law, the state couldn’t certify Mr. Reynolds’ nickname on the ballot after he filed this month. He also noted that when considering nicknames that aren’t professional or honorary titles, it’s nearly impossible to determine which ones are genuine.

“We don’t have the resources to see if that’s really your nickname, but it would be hard for us to make a determination like that anyway,” Mr. Humphries said.

Arkansas isn’t alone in limiting what names candidates can use on the ballot.

In 2006, a Tennessee chancellor barred a candidate from using the middle name “None of the Above,” saying the candidate promoted an agenda rather than himself. In Texas that year, an independent candidate for governor dropped an attempt to use the nickname “Grandma,” but humorist Kinky Friedman was allowed on the ballot as Richard “Kinky” Friedman.

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