The following post is by Family Council Communications Director Josh Mesker.

Last Saturday, myself and a good friend, Nic Horton with Advance Arkansas Institute, were invited to moderate a debate in Heber Springs between Phil Grace and Josh Miller—Republican candidates for District 66 of the Arkansas House of Representatives. Whoever wins their upcoming primary race on May 22 will move on to the general election to face Democrat Jeff Pistole on November 6.

This marked the first time that Family Council has been asked to take part in moderating a debate, but we were sought out for our conservative, non-partisan perspective, particularly on the social issues. Nic tackled the economic and individual freedom issues, and you can check out his perspective on the debate by clicking here.

The first question I asked was about recent comments by a state representative regarding marriage, who essentially proposed that marriage in Arkansas should be redefined to include relationships outside of the union of one man and one woman. Grace and Miller expressed their strong opposition to such an idea.

Another area where they agreed was on the issue of life. As a matter of fact, both candidates—when asked whether they’d support a Personhood Amendment to the Arkansas Constitution—seemed to be in equal support of declaring through law that human life begins at conception.

One of the most interesting discussions occurred after I brought up the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and its practice of granting “private club” permits for restaurants to sell alcohol in dry counties. Miller said that the “ABC Board is a joke,” while Grace said “the people have spoken” on alcohol by voting years ago to keep Cleburne County dry. I thought it was refreshing to hear these candidates emphasize the need for local control and speak out against the ABC Board’s disregard for it.

I also asked questions about passing a “Tim Tebow law,” requiring photo ID to vote, and reforming our state-run lottery. I’d go into further detail, however, I’m relying on memory—I didn’t have the chance to take notes and debate audio wasn’t recorded. Since these issues are addressed in the Arkansas Voter’s Guide and both candidates responded to it, I recommend visiting for more information. Click here to see the voter’s guide page for this race.

Many thanks to Dara Samuel and the Cleburne County Republican Women for hosting this debate and inviting me to participate as a moderator. I had a great experience and look forward to doing it again if asked. Any political party or group looking for a debate moderator for the primary or general election can contact me via email at

1 Comment

  1. Dara Samuel


    It was our pleasure to have you and Nicholas Horton moderate such a positive political debate between two young men vying for State Representative district 66. We appreciate you guys so much for asking pertinent questions relating to moral issues, as well as fiscal responsibilities of government. We would love to have you both again at our next debate. I will be in contact after the May 22 primary. Many thanks, Dara

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