Author Topic: Huckabee alienates GOP in Arkansas  (Read 931 times)

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Offline DixieBelle

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Huckabee alienates GOP in Arkansas
« on: January 24, 2008, 10:25:05 AM »
The former Southern Baptist pastor-turned-politician took control of the governor's mansion in 1996 with expectations that he would lead the kind of Republican ascension in other states of the Deep South. But he left office last year by turning over the governorship to a Democrat and with Republicans bitterly divided over his legacy for his party.

"He destroyed it," said Randy Minton, a former state representative whom Mr. Huckabee worked to help get elected but who later clashed repeatedly with the governor. "We had one U.S. senator, we had two congressmen, at the tops we had 37 out of 135 legislators in the House and Senate. Now I think there's 32 in the legislature, we have no U.S. senators and we have one congressman."

In both on-the-record and private conversations with Republicans in Arkansas, the picture that emerges is a governor who succeeded at advancing his causes and was willing to fight anyone who didn't agree.

That matters because the next Republican presidential nominee will be tasked with trying to rebuild a congressional majority and stoke a Republican Party after eight volatile years under President Bush.

Like Mr. Bush, Mr. Huckabee achieved some early successes. By the beginning of 1999, when he was sworn in for his first full term, his party had gained nearly a quarter of the state's House, added state Senate seats and held the lieutenant governorship, one of the two U.S. Senate seats and half of the four congressional seats.

But also like Mr. Bush, who battled congressional Republicans on immigration reform and prescription drug coverage, Mr. Huckabee found himself fighting members of his own party.

'Shi'ites,' 'socialists'

Almost immediately after taking office from Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, a Democrat who resigned after federal fraud and corruption convictions, Mr. Huckabee campaigned for his first tax increase — one-eighth cent on the sales tax to dedicate to conservation projects. He followed up with both budget cuts and increases, but the net effect was nearly $500 million in new taxes and an accompanying rise in spending.

What followed were clashes over the growth of government and, as the issue heated up nationally, over immigration policy. Republicans and conservative Democrats wanted a crackdown on illegal aliens, but Mr. Huckabee resisted.

The war of words was just as harsh. In 1998, when he faced a primary challenger who said Mr. Huckabee lacked certain conservative principles, the governor replied that his opponents weren't really Republicans, but rather libertarians or independents.

By the end of his tenure, Mr. Huckabee was calling his Republican opponents the "Shi'ites" and they called him a "Christian socialist
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