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March 14, 2015 at 7:13 p.m. | Updated July 8, 2015 at 10:11 a.m.

Back in 1959, Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson was up for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

And he was also wanted to be president.

That was a problem. Under Texas law to run for the White House he would have to withdraw from his Senate race. So if he didn't win the presidency, he would be out of political office, at least for a while.

Well, that didn't sit well with LBJ or his supporters in the state Legislature.

So nearly 56 years ago in April of 1959, state lawmakers passed what is known as the "LBJ Law," allowing him to run for both his Senate seat and for president. He didn't get the Democratic nomination, but he was tapped as John F. Kennedy's running mate, so he ran for both the Senate and the vice presidency at the same time.

In 1988, the same law allowed Lloyd Bentsen to keep his Senate seat even as he lost the race for vice president as Michael Dukakis' running mate.

The LBJ Law was more than a little controversial in 1959. Some even saw it as typical of the corrupt "good old boy" system in Texas politics-which is exactly what it was.

Ambitious politicos in other parts of the U.S. saw what LBJ had pulled off and thought it might come in handy for them one day. So other states began adopting their own versions of the LBJ Law.

Wisconsin has such a law-it allowed Paul Ryan to run for the House and vice president in 2012. As does Delaware-Joe Biden benefited there-and Connecticut-to Joe Lieberman's gratitude-among other states. Pennsylvania's law is so liberal it allows incumbents to run for two state offices at the same time, as well as for Congress and the White House.

But some states-including Arkansas-have kept to the common-sense idea that a candidate should pick one office and go for it. No "double dipping."

That could change.

Arkansas state Sen. Bart Hester has proposed a law to allow candidates for the U.S. House or Senate to also run for president or vice president.

Hester, a Republican, has made it clear he is doing this to ease the way for U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, should he decide to run for the White House. If the law passes, Cotton could have a chance to stay in the Senate if a bid for president fails.

Hester also says the proposed law was his idea and that Cotton did nothing to encourage or discourage him.

Call us old-fashioned, but in our view Arkansas does not need this law. It was shady when the Democrats in Texas did it. It was shady when other states followed suit. And it would be shady for Arkansas to fall in behind them.

But the idea of changing state law to benefit a particular incumbent? It's no less an affront to democracy in this case than it was in 1959 with Johnson.

It is not the job of state government to help any candidate achieve any office. And just because other states choose to wallow in that slop is no reason for Arkansas to join them at the trough.


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