Yesterday in Allah’s post about the Baptist who’s not endorsing Huckabee, I updated with a link to this article that summarizes conservative issues with Mike Huckabee’s tenure as Arkansas governor. The author, David J. Sanders, lists several specific things that Huckabee did that irritated the state’s Republicans, to the point that the Democrats increased their power during Huckabee’s tenure.
In 2000, Huckabee insisted on controlling the state party’s separate Victory Committee, but the committee’s finances were so poorly handled that a Federal Election Commission investigation resulted in the largest fine ever handed down by the FEC to a state party. That same year Republican Rep. Jay Dickey lost the 4th District seat he’d held for eight years.
In 2001, when conservative Republican lawmakers opposed a higher sales taxes and fees the governor supported, he began calling them “Shiites.” Huckabee’s positions on fiscal policy became indistinguishable from Democrats’ positions. A year later, he openly campaigned against a ballot initiative to remove the sales tax on food and medicine. While he and Rockefeller won re-election in 2002, Sen. Tim Hutchinson didn’t.
In 2003, Huckabee not only begged lawmakers for new taxes to make up a budget shortfall, but he rebuffed conservatives’ (Republicans and a couple of Democrats) plan to cover the shortfall by tapping one-time money and cutting pork. In 2004, President Bush won re-election, but Huckabee campaigned for some Democrats – even some who had Republican opponents – and Republicans lost state legislative seats for the first time since 1990.
In 2005, a term-limited Huckabee frustrated conservatives when he pushed a bill to give in-state college tuition and scholarships to the children of illegal immigrants. The next year, Democrats swept Republicans in every race for statewide constitutional office and Republicans lost legislative seats for the second consecutive election cycle.
Curious about the lack of specifics in the paragraph about Huckabee campaigning with some Democrats, I followed up with Sanders to get some names. And he provided one and is hunting for more.
As for a race in which Huckabee worked to defeat a Republican, there was a legislative race in Mountain Home, Arkansas, where Huckabee helped Democrat Benny Magness in his race against Republican Shawn Womack. Womack won.
Campaigning for the other party is bad enough, but it’s the “Shiite Republicans” moniker that disturbs me more. He started using it in 2001 and continued using it afterward. It’s the kind of attack that conservatives regularly get from the likes of the Daily Kos and other leftists who gleefully refer to conservatives and particularly Christian conservatives as the “Taliban wing” of the GOP or “America’s Taliban.” It’s a smear, and one that no Republican should lob at others and particularly not at conservatives, who are the base of the party.
I wondered if there was evidence outside Sanders’ article for Huckabee’s smear. There is. Here’s an article from December mentioning it.
There’s a species of Republican true believers right here in Arkansas who’ve always suspected his bona fides as an honest-to-goodness fiscal conservative and social reactionary. They’re largely to be found up in the hills, which tend to be Republican territory in any Southern state because of complicated historical, ethnic, economic and geological reasons having to do with soil, slavery and the plantation system. Back when he was a feisty, hefty pol instead of a walking –– no, running –– advertisement for weight loss, Brother Huckabee used to fondly refer to such critics as Shi’ite Republicans.
That author is joining Huckabee’s smear to pile on fiscal conservatives like the Club for Growth, whom Huckabee calls the “Club for Greed.”
Does Huckabee ever talk about any Democrat group or faction with similar insults? If he has, I haven’t heard it.
These smears get to the root of the problem I have with Huckabee. Instinctively, he is not a conservative. He’ll say conservative things in order to win approval from some part of the party’s base, but when push comes to shove he instinctively goes for the non-conservative side of the argument. I’m not just talking about calling Republicans “Shiites,” a quote that’s sure to get played over and over again if he’s the nominee, or about his raising taxes rather than cutting spending as the Arkansas “Shiite Republicans” wanted him to do, but about his swift shifts on issues like Gitmo and using the leftish “bunker mentality” slam on the Bush administration. It’s tiresome enough to get hit with this kind of rhetoric from the left. Conservatives don’t need one on our own side who is just as likely as they are to smear us.
Some may lob the exact same criticism at Romney, that he says conservative things just to court the conservative vote. There may be some truth to that, but has Romney gone out of his way to smear conservatives as “Shiites?” He didn’t run in 1994 on a platform of Reagan-Bush conservatism, granted, but I haven’t seen any evidence that Romney or any of the other candidates save McCain has gone out of his way to smear conservatives. And instinctively, Romney seems to tack more toward conservative ideas than away from them when he has the latitude. The opposite is the case with respect to Huckabee. The pattern I’m getting from him is that on social issues he’ll tack right, but on everything else he’ll tack left.
Add it all up. Huckabee campaigned with Democrats and hurt the Arkansas GOP, which hurt conservatism in that state. He smeared Arkansas Republicans as “Shiite Republicans.” He raised taxes rather than cut spending when confronted with that choice. He pushed a bill to grant in-state tuition to illegal aliens. He would close Gitmo and move the terrorists there to US soil, which is the same position that the ACLU promotes. He’s an Obama supporter’s choice to make trouble for other GOP candidates in the Michigan primary.
The guy may be nice and he may be a good, humorous speaker, but as far as I can tell he’s no conservative.
Update: David Sanders emails with more Democrats that Huckabee assisted.
In 2002, Rep. Bobby Glover, D, over Rep. Randy Minton, R, in a state senate race.
In 2000, He campaigned for Barbara Horn, D, in a Dem. primary against Dennis Young, D, and Spencer Plumlee, R, dropped out because Huck didn’t support him.
Huckabee says he wants to change the Republican party. Running with Democrats isn’t the way to do that.
Update: Dan Riehl looks at the possible roots of “Shiite Republican” slurs.