On Thursday, Arkansas senator Jim Hendren issued a statement saying that he had decided to leave the GOP and register as an independent, with affiliations to no party. He said that he made this decision after “many sleepless nights” and a lot of serious consideration.
The senator added it was a clear-eyed decision but was made with sadness and disappointment. He said that his commitment to Arkansas and America was greater than loyalty to any political party.
The senator had recently defeated Democrat Ryan Craig on November 3 by a landslide. It was a reelection. He had also served the House of Representatives, Arkansas for six years.
Hendren announced that he will start a new organization called Common Ground Arkansas. It will work to find and support leaders who would come together instead of moving apart. He asked those who consider themselves “politically homeless” to join him and the new organization.
He said that his values are the same but he believes his party’s values have changed. He added that the Capitol riot of January 6 and the challenge to the election results were two major factors that led him to leave the GOP. For him the violence in the Capitol unfolding before him “was the final straw.”
Although he declined to name a single individual, he said that he had been disappointed by former President Trump’s treatment of veterans and service members. He spoke of the dishonor and ridicule meted out to a gold star family who son had served. He was also upset that his hero John McCain was called a “loser” on TV.
He believed that constant racist rhetoric, ridicule of those who had disabilities, bullying enemies and talking about women disrespectfully “would never be tolerated in my home or business.”
Hendersen’s family has deep ties with the GOP. His father Kim had also been a member of both of the legislative chambers. His uncles are Governor Asa Hutchinson as well as former senator Tim Hutchinson
He thanked Hutchinson and his colleagues state senator Joyce Elliot and the late Charlie Stewart, both of whom are Democrats, for working with him.
When asked for comments, by Newsweek, the Republican Party of Arkansas did not respond.
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