Jim Hendren, a nephew of the Hutchinson brothers and an anti-Choice fanatic, was first elected to the Arkansas House in 1994. He ran for his uncles' old congressional seat in 2001 but came in third in the Republican primary either because he had an extramarital affair or because people in the district had had enough hypocrites representing them. In 2012 he ran for the state Senate, unopposed, to represent a chunk of beet red northwest Arkansas (Benton and Washington counties where Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma all meet). He was reelected in 2016, also without opposition, either in the primary or the general. Last year a Democrat, Ryan Craig, stepped forward and was thrashed by Hendren, 32,705 (73.4%) to 11,825 (26.6%). Safe seat. He serves as Senate President.
As you can see in the video above, yesterday Hendren announced he had dissociated himself from the Republican Party. He's still a right-wing crackpot but he will be an independent right-wing crackpot going forward. He told local media outlets that he's abandoning the GOP because of hateful rhetoric, Trump's behavior, a lack of accountability and the insurrection at the Capitol. "It would be easy," he wrote in a statement to the press, "to blame this on one person or a few. But, sadly, it runs more deeply and cuts more broadly than that. For months, I watched as members of my own party and our former president tried to overturn the results of a fair and free election, the very hallmark of our democracy; with lies, false statements, conspiracy theories and attempts to subvert the Constitution." He called the insurrection the "final straw. I asked myself, what in the world would I tell my grandchildren when they ask one day, what happened and what did I do about it?"
The Arkansas Republican Party is flipping out and has accused Hendren of getting ready to run for governor against Trumpist lunatic Sarah Huckabee.
The current governor, Asa Hutchinson, Hendren's uncle defended him from attacks by the GOP, writing, in a statement that "While I understand and identify with the concerns expressed by Sen. Hendren, I am convinced that for me the best pathway for continued conservative governance is through the GOP."
When I was a kid, Arkansas was a Democratic stronghold and Democrats held on even while other southern states started trending towards the GOP. Arkansas voted for the Democratic candidate stating in 1876, voting, for example, populist William Jennings Bryan in 1896 against William McKinley (73.7%), in 1900 against McKinely again (63.5%) and in 1908 against Taft (57.3%). In the 1950s Arkansas opposed Eisenhower both times and backed Adlai Stevenson, the supported JFK against Nixon in 1960 and LBJ against Goldwater. When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, Arkansas broke up with the Democratic Party. In 1968 they gave their electoral votes to George Wallace:
George Wallace- 235,627 (38.6%)
Richard Nixon- 189,062 (31.0%)
Hubert Humphrey- 184,901 (30.3%)
After that it was mostly GOP-- exceptions being Carter and favorite son Bill Clinton. Trump beat Hillary with 60.6% and beat Biden with 62.4%.