Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee (born 24 August 1955) is the current Republican Governor of the State of Arkansas.

Mike Huckabee was born in Hope, Arkansas. Huckabee was elected Governor of Arkansas Boys State in 1972.

Huckabee graduated magna cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University. He attended Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Huckabee was pastor of Baptist churches in Arkadelphia, Texarkana, and Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He was president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention from 1989 to 1991. He also served as President of a television station.

In 1993 Huckabee was elected to the post of Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. Huckabee, as the only Republican in statewide office expanded the part-time position and actively used it as a platform to reach the public. Huckabee and Democratic leaders, particularly the Secretary of State in charge of the Capitol, clashed over his office location, access, and even the office furniture. Huckabee was reelected as Lieutenant Governor in 1994.

On 15 July 1996 he was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas to fill the vacancy created by Governor Jim Guy Tucker's resignation due to a felony conviction in the Whitewater scandal. This was a dramatic moment for Arkansas as Tucker at first resigned, and then rescinded his resignation as Huckabee was preparing to be sworn in. For a short while the event had the makings of a constitutional crisis not seen in Arkansas since the Brooks-Baxter War in the 19th century. Huckabee remained calm and won praise for his handling of the situation from both citizens and state leaders of both parties. Within a few hours Tucker reinstated his resignation and Huckabee was sworn in.

Soon after taking office Huckabee signed legislation creating a health insurance program designed to provide insurance to children of families who could not qualify for Medicaid but could not afford private insurance. He signed legislation to cut taxes, and simplified the automobile registration procedure which had long been a source of complaint from the average citizen.

In November of 1998, Huckabee was elected to a full four-year term. At the start of his second term Arkansas had the lowest rated road and highway system in the nation. Huckabee led a successful public relations campaign for a massive bond program to pay for major road reconstruction. This campaign drew praise because Arkansas voters had traditionally shied away from public debt having experienced a major bond scandal that affected the state's finances for the latter half of the 19th century.

In 2002 Huckabee also led a widely praised campaign to convince the public to funnel state tobacco settlement revenues into the state's healthcare system rather than into the general fund.

In November of 2002 he was reelected to another four-year term. He was made the chair of the Southern Governors' Association in 1999 and served in that capacity through 2000. He has chaired the Southern Growth Policies Board.

In 2003 the courts in Arkansas declared that the state's school funding procedure was unconstitutional and ordered the state to produce a fair system. Huckabee proposed a controversial plan that would consolidate many of the state's smaller school districts. This plan had the earmarks of Huckabee's earlier successful public relations campaigns on major issues. School consolidation, however, is very unpopular in rural Arkansas and may be the "third rail" of Arkansas politics. Huckabee has come under intense fire for his sweeping plan from political opponents and local school superintendents. Some members of his own conservative base are opposed to the plan. During the 2003 session of the legislature no real forward progress was made on this effort and the court order has not yet been satisfied.

During his three terms Huckabee has proven a popular politician but has also drawn considerable criticism from opponents and supporters alike on some issues. After the 2000 Presidential elections Huckabee was criticized widely for referring to his own state's electoral process as worthy of a "Banana Republic" while speaking on an irreverant out of state radio program.

Huckabee has also made use of his authority as Governor to pardon or commute the sentences of felons. The most famous of these was Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist. Dumond has been accused of murdering a woman in Missouri soon after being pardoned in Arkansas. This event led to intense criticism of Huckabee's commutation policies by the press and by some victim's rights groups.

Political opponents have often criticized his former career as a Baptist minister and he has been dubbed "Bro-Gov" by some wags. For a time, the Governor lived in a "double-wide" house trailer on the grounds of the Governor's Mansion while it underwent renovation which played into common stereotypes of rural Arkansas. All of these events naturally provided an opening for his opponents to make light of him and his administration. The press has also questioned Huckabee on gifts he received while Governor and an instance of alleged influence over a political programming decision at the state's public television system.

During the 2002 elections his wife, Janet Huckabee, ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of State and both received criticism for the dual election effort.

While in office, Huckabee has authored three books, a memoir, Character is the Issue, a book about juvenile violence called Kids Who Kill, and Living Beyond Your Lifetime which is a guide for leaving a personal legacy. He is an avid outdoorsman, an enthusiasm he shares with his wife Janet.

Huckabee has been one of Arkansas longest serving governors but will be ineligible to run for another term due to term limits.