The Final Push: Staring Down the Barrel of the Midterm Elections

Finally! It’s less than 90 hours until this long national nightmare of a mid-term election comes to hideous close. We can’t wait for the relative calm (maybe?) of Nov. 3, when everyone sleeps for a full day before gettin’ wound up for 2012.

Until then, we’ve got lots to do:

1) “Arkansas Week,” 8 p.m. tonight. I join KUAR-FM, 89.1’s Kelly MacNeil, the University of Arkansas’ Hoyt Purvis and host Steve Barnes for a final assessment of the state’s Congressional and constitutional officer races, such as they are. Remember that big exciting Senate race? Not so exciting heading into the final weekend. We look to the 1st District for any final fireworks. Also: Swepco’s 0-3 in court rulings. Check your local AETN station tonight or watch it online here.

2) “Today’s THV This Morning,” election day. Last week, I appeared on the noon show each day for a quick, final summary of all the Congressional races. On Tuesday’s “Morning” show, I’ll be live throughout the morning with some last-minute notes and maybe a guest or two.

3) Midterm Election Watch Party, the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. I’ll be on a panel with a couple of other yahoos to give some final impressions of this year’s campaigns. We’ll also take questions from the audience and enjoy a warm bowl of bean soup before the returns start, er, returning. Fun!

4) Election Night Returns on Today’s THV and ArkansasBusiness.com. Pop up some popcorn, grab a Coke and settle in for a long night. You’ll be on the couch, we’ll be in at the parties, on the phone, online and in studio delivering the latest election night news as it happens. Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins will analyze the county-by-county returns live on Today’s THV and THV2.com, and I’ll be manning coverage for ArkansasBusiness.com.

5) The Morning After. Hankins and I will be on “Today’s THV This Morning” and “Today’s THV at Noon” to go over the results and, maybe, What It All Means.

And if this year’s elections weren’t scary enough: Happy Halloween!

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Robbie Wills on Next Week’s Legislative Session

Wills on Today's THV

Wills on Today's THV

Incoming Speaker of the House Robbie Wills, D-Conway, is making the media rounds, part of preparations for the launch on Monday of the new Arkansas legislative session. Today, he took e-mailed questions from viewers on “Today’s THV at Noon.”

As expected, popular topics from viewers revolved around the governor’s plan to raise the state tax on cigarettes to fund a statewide trauma system and for other purposes, as well as the state lottery. Wills and Senator Pro Tem Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow, meeting with journalists earlier this week, said the lottery was pretty much the main priority for legislators this session. But the cigarette tax figures to be another important issue.

After appearing on-air, I talked to Wills briefly about another topic, one close to the Gov. Mike Beebe’s heart: The grocery tax. Beebe, having already cut the tax in the last session, wants to knock another penny off it during this session, despite an increasingly tight state revenue picture. Wills noted that eliminating the tax, as Beebe has promised to do, had been a goal of his as well. But Wills has said before that he wants to wait until later in the session to take up the grocery tax issue so the state will know more about its financial standing heading into the spring.

And, yes, Wills is giving blogging and Twittering a whirl with his own Web site, RobbieWills.com. He’s already posted video from his Wednesday appearance on “Today’s THV This Morning,” and says he’s going to try his best to keep the site as updated as possible, even as things get busier and busier with the session.

More

Robbie Wills’ blog

Robbie Wills on Twitter

More on the lottery (ArkansasBusiness.com)

Beebe Hints at Cigarette Tax (ArkansasBusiness.com)

Working Out with the Wii on KTHV

THVideo: Click here and here to see me, Stefanie Bryant and Tom Brannon goofing around on the WiiFit.

I don’t just read the Arkansas business news headlines on “Today’s THV at Noon” — sometimes I’m called on to be Tom Brannon’s monkey. And it’s a role I’m been more than happy to fill.

This week, I pitched in on a C-Block segment on the Nintendo Wii’s WiiFit system. Julie Blackwood from Body Shape Pro Fitness was the guest and talked about how people could use the WiiFit system to exercise.

As I pointed out during the segment, Nintendo has done an interesting thing with its Wii system by targeting markets that don’t include typical “gamers.” Those markets include senior citizens, who can use the Wii and, to some extent, WiiFit, for low impact workouts and exercises in hand-eye coordination.

Games like Wii Sports are fun because they get you off the couch and moving. They’re even more fun when lots of people are around, making gaming even more of a social activity — in my limited experience with the system, its been a blast at parties.

WiiFit takes it step further. Instead of flicking your wrist and flailing your arms (like you do in Wii Sports), you’re moving your legs, leaning to and fro, balancing — even doing push-ups. You can do as much or as little as you like. And the system tracks all kinds of personal health stats.

It’s interesting to see video games moving beyond their traditional markets and into new territory. And consider this: A Bryant physical therapist I know, Adam Carson, is now using the Wii in his practice for lower extremity and shoulder rehab.

(Remember: You can stream the THV noon show every weekday here.)