Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is acting like a man interested in running for president. Speculation began in 2021 and continues as he makes moves that indicate that he may go for it.
Hutchinson is term limited out of his current job. If he is to run for president, it’s now or never for him. By 2028 it will be too late for him. He garners attention now because he is the governor of a very red state and he is also the chair of the National Governor’s Association. Hutchinson is raising eyebrows as he heads to New Hampshire Monday for an appearance at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics speaking series ‘Politics and Eggs’ at Saint Anslem College. That’s a stop made by politicians with presidential aspirations. Chris Christie, who has teased his interest in running again, spoke at the same event last month.
For now, Hutchinson is acting coy when directly asked about his intentions. In 2021 he started “America Strong and Free”, a political action effort for education advocacy. The group also raises money for GOP candidates across the U.S. in the 2022 elections. At the time he spoke of the importance of the 2022 election cycle.
“2022 is a very, very important year for our country and for our party, and I want to be engaged in that debate. So when the legislative session is over with, I hope to set up a national leadership effort called ‘America Strong and Free,’ where I can help influence the direction of our country in 2022. We’ll see where that leads,” he said.
He’s a former two term congressman and now has gubernatorial experience. Those would normally make for good qualifications for a presidential candidate but we know that times are different since 2016 and Trump’s successful path to the Republican nomination as an outsider. Is there an appetite for a traditional Establishment kind of candidate in 2024? Trump is still clearly the guy to beat but with the rise of DeSantis, perhaps more traditional politicians will go ahead and jump in if he does. Trump hasn’t officially announced that he will run in 2024 but it sure looks as though he will. He’s holding campaign rallies to support candidates who have won his endorsement. If I had my druthers, Trump would continue in his role as kingmaker and open up the GOP presidential primary for others. It’s not clear yet if Trump’s ego will let him step aside.
Hutchinson isn’t well known outside of Arkansas and he doesn’t have a compelling personality. It will be hard for him to gain traction, especially up against DeSantis or others like Cruz and Hawley who are on the list of potential candidates in 2024. It is interesting that the Republican bench is deep yet Democrats are struggling to come up with an alternative to Biden if he doesn’t run in 2024.
The governor isn’t a hard core Never Trumper but he often criticizes Trump and is on the record saying he will not support a run by Trump in 2024 because of how Trump handled the 2020 election results and the events of January 6. For now he claims he is going to New Hampshire to play a role in the direction of the party.
‘I want to have a bold message and the best place to start is New Hampshire,’ Hutchinson said, adding that he would like to ‘be a leading voice for a new direction for our party and our country.’
Hutchinson touted his ‘record’ both in Arkansas’ governor’s mansion and as a two-term Congressman in the House.
‘That’s the reason I’m speaking at Politics and Eggs,’ he said.
‘That gets attention whenever you are speaking at a political event in New Hampshire, and I welcome the opportunity to influence the debate and shape debate.’
Trump is not a fan. He jumped on Hutchinson when he vetoed a bill banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. The Arkansas state legislature with its Republican majority overrode his veto.
‘Asa Hutchinson, the lightweight RINO Governor of Arkansas, just vetoed a Bill that banned the CHEMICAL CASTRATION OF CHILDREN,’ Trump said in a statement on April 8. ‘”Bye-bye Asa,” that’s the end of him! Fortunately for the Great State of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders will do a fantastic job as your next Governor!’
Like I said above, Hutchinson is term limited so he’ll be gone soon anyway. It remains to be seen if Hutchinson continues to toy with the idea of running. We’ll see what kind of reaction he receives in New Hampshire.