Senator, Arkansas State Senate, 1979-1982, 2003-present
Representative, Arkansas State House of Representatives, 2001-2002
After a few years in the state Senate, he made a very unsuccessful bid for Governor of Arkansas in 1982, then-former Governor Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial comeback election. In the ’82 Democratic gubernatorial primary, Hendren scored a whopping 3.85%. Democratic primary, you ask? But he’s a Republican, you say? The Arkansas Democratic Party reportedly saw fit to boot him for his family ties:
Hendren was a state senator and a Democrat before that party kicked him out in 1982. His sin? He gave money to the campaigns of his brothers-in-law Asa and Tim Hutchinson.
After becoming a gubernatorial footnote, Hendren started his own plastics company, before eventually re-entering the state Legislature this past decade. Since his return to the state Legislature, his focus, so far as I can tell, has not been on the economy, health care, or education. His signature issue has been road safety through increased government regulation and mandate:
State Sen. Kim Hendren has made a legislative career out of trying to make Arkansas’s roads safer. He’s proposed bills to require motorcyclists to wear helmets and drivers hauling loads of gravel to cover them with tarps.And session after session, he’s tried to get his fellow lawmakers to ban motorists from talking on hand-held cell phones – a step state legislatures around the country have considered. And session after session, including the one just finished, he’s failed.
The measures may be perfectly sensible – but “bigger government” in any capacity probably won’t play so well in a Republican primary. So not only does he appear to be very comfortable with increasing government’s role in our private lives in this area, but he’s failed at it, making him an ineffective legislator. On top of being for “bigger government,” he’s also a “rabid tax hiker,” in Republican parlance – he voted for an increase in the state’s cigarette tax. Still, his title and his ties to the Hutchinson family should be more than enough to mean a competitive AR-GOP Senate primary, i.e. a third-tier circular firing squad. Though several other Republicans are considering a 2010 Senate challenge to Senator Lincoln, if Lincoln and her currently $2.27 million bankroll wind up with the septuagenarian Hendren as her opponent, she should be comfortably re-elected.
UPDATE: It’s official. Hendren’s in. Apparently, he has the personal wealth to, at least in part, self-fund a campaign. He also pledges to only serve one term if elected (which makes sense for a 71-year-old seeking a six-year-term), but will Arkansans elect someone who will not be there to build seniority in a body in which seniority often translates directly to clout?
Like I keep saying: Blanche always gets the colorful ones.
And thanks so much Guru for linking to the state’s progressive paper, the Arkansas Times without one link to the right wing “mainstream” paper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. You made my heart smile! That said, John Brummett has a really good article on why Republicans always seem to go after Lincoln but leave Pryor alone, even though they are much the same in many, many ways. Basically-Blanche is a girl and her daddy wasn’t governor…show’s how much work to do we have to do in Arkansas and one more reason we can’t abandon it to the Republicans as national Democrats seem to be doing. http://arkansasnews.com/2009/0…
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