Asa Hutchinson

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Asa Hutchinson
Asa Hutchinson 2019.jpg
46th Governor of Arkansas
Assumed office
January 13, 2015
LieutenantTim Griffin
Preceded byMike Beebe
Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security
In office
January 23, 2003 – March 1, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byRandy Beardsworth (acting)[1]
Administrator of the
Drug Enforcement Administration
In office
August 8, 2001 – January 23, 2003
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byWilliam Simpkins (acting)
Succeeded byKaren Tandy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1997 – August 6, 2001
Preceded byTim Hutchinson
Succeeded byJohn Boozman
Chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas
In office
January 1, 1990 – January 1, 1995
Preceded byKen Coon
Succeeded bySheffield Nelson
United States Attorney
for the Western District of Arkansas
In office
September 1, 1982 – January 20, 1985
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byLarry McCord
Succeeded byMichael Fitzhugh
City Attorney of Bentonville, Arkansas
In office
Personal details
William Asa Hutchinson II

(1950-12-03) December 3, 1950 (age 69)
Bentonville, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Susan Hutchinson
ResidenceGovernor's Mansion
EducationBob Jones University (BA)
University of Arkansas (JD)

William Asa Hutchinson II (born December 3, 1950) is an American businessman, attorney, and politician, serving since 2015 as the 46th Governor of Arkansas. Previously he was U.S. Attorney for the Fort Smith-based Western District of Arkansas, U.S. Congressman from the Third District of Arkansas, Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the first Undersecretary for Border & Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In 2006, Hutchinson was the Republican nominee for governor of Arkansas, but was defeated by Democratic candidate Mike Beebe, the outgoing state attorney general. In 2014, Hutchinson was again the Republican nominee for governor, this time winning the election by defeating Democratic U.S. Representative Mike Ross. He won re-election in 2018 with nearly two thirds of the vote.

Early life and legal career

Hutchinson was born in Bentonville, Arkansas, the son of Coral Virginia (Mount) Hutchinson (1912–1998) and John Malcolm Hutchinson Sr. (1907–1991).[2] He earned his bachelor's degree from Bob Jones University in South Carolina in 1972, and received his J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1975. He practiced law in Fort Smith for 21 years and handled more than 100 jury trials.

In 1982, Hutchinson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as U.S. Attorney for the United States Western District of Arkansas. At the age of thirty-one, Hutchinson was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation. He made national headlines after successfully prosecuting The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord (CSA), a white supremacist organization founded by polygamist James Ellison. The CSA forced a three-day armed stand-off with local, state and federal law enforcement. As U.S. Attorney, Hutchinson put on a flak jacket and personally negotiated a peaceful conclusion to the stand-off.[3]

During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Hutchinson was described as aggressive in his efforts to prosecute criminals.[citation needed] Hutchinson would later be appointed to run the DEA.

Business career

In early 2005, Hutchinson founded a consulting firm, Hutchinson Group, LLC, with partners Betty Guhman and Kirk Tompkins, in Little Rock, and accepted a contract for a one-year position with Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., as the chair of its Homeland Security practice. Hutchinson ended his contract with Venable LLP in March 2006 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign and his consulting firm in Little Rock. In January 2007, Hutchinson rejoined Venable.[4]

In June 2006, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported that Hutchinson's $2,800 investment in Fortress America Acquisition Corporation, a company that Hutchinson was advising, was worth over a million dollars after the company's initial public offering. The news story noted that Hutchinson was unable to touch his stock for another two years. The six founding shareholders in Fortress America, in addition to Hutchinson, included former U.S. Representative Tom McMillen of Maryland, former U.S. Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and a private-equity firm that had former CIA Director James Woolsey among its partners.

Two months earlier, on May 4, 2006, Hutchinson had filed a financial disclosure form, which he was required to submit as candidate for governor. The form did not list his 200,000 shares in Fortress America, which were trading at about $5 per share. "Just totally an oversight," Hutchinson said when questioned by the media in June.[5] He filed an amended report the next day to correct the error.[6]

Political career

Early efforts

In 1986, Hutchinson ran against incumbent Democratic Senator (and former governor) Dale Bumpers.[7] It was a nationally Democratic year, and Hutchinson fared worse than Bumpers' previous Senate challenger, Little Rock investment banker William P. "Bill" Clark, in the 1980 election.

In 1990, Hutchinson ran against Winston Bryant for Attorney General of Arkansas; he again lost, although the race was very tight.

After losing the 1990 race, Hutchinson became the co-chairman, with Sheffield Nelson, of the Arkansas Republican Party, a position he held for five years. During that period, Hutchinson was credited with helping dramatically build the GOP organization in Arkansas by leading the effort to require the state to finance polling stations, which allowed more Republican voters to get to the polls and vote.

Hutchinson considered a rematch with Bumpers in 1992 before he deferred to Mike Huckabee, who lost to Bumpers.

U.S. House of Representatives

Asa Hutchinson's 105th congressional photo

In 1992 Hutchinson's brother, Tim, was elected to Congress in Arkansas' Third District, when veteran Republican U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt retired. In 1996, when his brother decided not to run for re-election to the House in order to seek the open Senate seat caused by the retirement of Democrat David Pryor, Hutchinson ran for the seat and won.

Hutchinson, who had at first decided to run for an open seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives from Sebastian County, defeated Ann Henry, a long-time friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, in November 1996. Although Henry outspent Hutchinson during the campaign, the district's heavy Republican tilt and his brother Tim's presence atop the ballot helped Asa win with 55 percent of the vote—to date, the last remotely competitive race in the Third District. His brother Tim also won his campaign for Senate, and served for one term, losing his re-election bid in 2002.

In 1998, Hutchinson was re-elected to the House with far less difficulty, taking 80 percent of the vote against an underfunded Democratic challenger. He was re-elected unopposed in November 2000.

In office, Hutchinson compiled a voting record as conservative as that of his brother. He led efforts to crack down on illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine. Hutchinson also served as one of the managers (prosecutors) during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1998. In 1999, Hutchinson was involved in the effort to reform campaign finance laws and offered an alternative proposal to the bill by Christopher Shays and Marty Meehan, which he opposed on the grounds that it "went too far" because it attempted to ban television commercials by legal third-party organizations. Hutchinson did support the bill by John McCain and Russ Feingold in the Senate.[8]

Hutchinson attempted, unsuccessfully, to modify the civil asset forfeiture reform bill that sought to prevent police abuse of its power to seize private property on mere suspicion of being linked to any criminal investigation. His amendment, allegedly, would have empowered the police to continue profiting from drug money.[9]

Drug Enforcement Administration

Hutchinson as Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security
Hutchinson and United States Congressman Frank Wolf tour a DEA drug testing facility in Northern Virginia in 2001

In 2001, at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, Hutchinson was appointed Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Washington Post columnist David Broder praised Hutchinson's appointment, writing: "The high esteem in which former Rep. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas is held by his colleagues was demonstrated by the 98–1 Senate vote confirming him last month as the new director of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Even more telling was the fact that Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and an ardent opponent of the impeachment of President Clinton, appeared at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to praise Hutchinson, who had been one of the Republican House managers presenting the case against Clinton to the full Senate. In his 4 1/2 years in the House, Hutchinson, a former U.S. Attorney, earned an estimable reputation as a thoughtful conservative and, as liberals like Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont affirmed, as a fair-minded advocate."[10]

During his tenure at the DEA, Hutchinson led a re-evaluation of the DEA's mission and resources, concluding that too many resources were focused on 1980s-era drug enforcement priorities. Hutchinson called greater attention to newly emergent drug threats such as methamphetamine in rural America, ecstasy among youth, and predatory drugs (also known as date rape drugs). He also lobbied for greater investments in prevention and treatment. He particularly focused on using drug treatment courts as a way to help non-violent drug offenders beat addiction.

The official position of the DEA during Hutchinson's two-year tenure was opposition to medical marijuana, and the DEA raided numerous medical marijuana establishments during that time. But in 2011 Hutchinson supported the right to use medical marijuana in a debate at the University of Arkansas when he said "I think that if there is a medical need and the doctors say you need a particular substance — whether it is Marinol or marijuana or whatever — if the doctor or medical community says that, then patients ought to be able to get that."[11]

Department of Homeland Security

After the September 11 attacks, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). President George W. Bush tapped Hutchinson to lead the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, the largest division of the DHS, with more than 110,000 employees. Hutchinson was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate on January 23, 2003. Later, during his campaign for Governor of Arkansas, Hutchinson's opponent attempted to portray him as mishandling immigration issues. Hutchinson's critics particularly focused on his efforts to limit the Border Patrol to stopping illegal immigrants from crossing the border, while giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sole responsibility for removing aliens already in the country.[citation needed]

While serving as Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security in the Bush Administration, Hutchinson supported Bush's proposals to provide more job opportunities for illegal aliens without criminal records, while tightening security on the border. In September 2004, he said: "Eliminating the fear of deportation will be an incentive." In his written response to Senate questions, Hutchinson also said "Undocumented aliens will tell you they often have trouble sleeping at night, and leaving for work each day, not knowing if they will make it home at the end of the day." Hutchinson also said that Americans are not willing to put in the resources that would be required to remove the estimated 12 million or more population of illegal immigrants.[12] In that same testimony, Hutchinson emphasized that any debate over immigration reform must start first with enforcement of immigration laws and border security, asserting, "You have to start with the proposition that in order to be effective in the war against terrorism our nation must be able to secure its borders."[13]

Hutchinson was also careful to temper his support for Bush's Temporary Worker Proposal with a call for strengthening security first. In his testimony, he asserted:

The necessary elements to tackle this enormous problem [of illegal immigration] effectively are: (1) Increasing the funding of technology and security personnel along the border, (2) Making it more difficult for illegal aliens to get jobs in this country, and (3) providing a workable and practical means for migrant workers to meet the job needs in this country when those jobs cannot be filled otherwise. When, and only when, these security measures are established then it is appropriate to begin a conversation on providing a temporary legal status to the eight million illegal workers already in this country. It is a significant security vulnerability to allow such a large population live and work anonymously in our communities, with no legal identities or other common connections to society. It is, in fact, a terrorist's dream. Moreover, any legal status should be a temporary work permit with a point of return to the alien's home country."[13]

Hutchinson left office as Undersecretary on March 1, 2005.[14]

Private Organization Task Forces

The Constitution Project's Guantanamo Task Force

Hutchinson agreed to serve on The Constitution Project's Guantanamo Task Force in December 2010.[15][16][17] He told the Associated Press he agreed to join the task force because he believed it was "something important for our national security and our war on terrorism."

NRA "National School Shield Initiative" Task Force

In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association (NRA) assembled a task force of experts in homeland security, law enforcement training, and school safety to review school security standards in select areas of the country. The stated goal of the task force was to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the safety of children in schools and to prevent such shootings in the future. Hutchinson served as the leader of the task force.

On April 2, 2013, Hutchinson presented the National School Shield plan during a news conference at the National Press Club.[18][19]

On that same day, he appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell to discuss the National School Shield plan.[20]

Governor of Arkansas

2006 election

Hutchinson campaigning for governor in 2006

Shortly after his return to Arkansas, Hutchinson announced his intention to run for governor in 2006. Initially, Hutchinson was to face three-term Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who was favored in most pre-election polls, in the Republican primary. However, Rockefeller's withdrawal and death from a blood disorder in early 2006 led to Hutchinson winning the primary. He was defeated in the general election by the Democratic candidate, then-Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe.

2014 election

Hutchinson was a Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas in 2014. He was supported by House Speaker Davy Carter.[21] On November 4, 2014, he defeated Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross in the general election.

2018 election

Hutchinson won re-election on November 6, 2018.


Hutchinson greeting Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in 2017

Hutchinson assumed office as governor on January 13, 2015.

On November 16, 2015, the governor said that he would block all Syrian refugees from entering the state in response to the November 2015 Paris attacks.[22]

Meeting with stays from the court system, Hutchinson approved a condensed schedule for the execution of eight men in eleven days because the expiration date of his state's supply of one of the drugs used in Arkansas's lethal cocktail, midazolam, was the end of April 2017. Arkansas had not executed any prisoners since 2005.[23]

As Governor, Hutchinson implemented work requirements for Medicaid enrollees. As a result, by December 2018, almost 17,000 Arkansans had lost their Medicaid health insurance, with reapplication available in the new calendar year.[24]

In February 2019, Hutchinson signed a bill into law that would criminalize abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned.[25]


Asa Hutchinson's older brother, Tim, preceded him as U.S. Representative from Arkansas's 3rd congressional district and served one term as a United States Senator from Arkansas from 1997–2003, being defeated for a second term by then-Arkansas Attorney General Mark Pryor, a Democrat, in 2002. Asa and Tim Hutchinson are both graduates of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina with Asa, Class of 1972. His identical twin nephews, Jeremy and Timothy Chad Hutchinson, sons of Tim Hutchinson, were the first twins to serve alongside each other in the Arkansas General Assembly, both as members of the House of Representatives. Hutchinson is the brother-in-law of former Arkansas state Senator Kim Hendren who in 1958 married Hutchinson's sister, Marylea Hutchinson. Arkansas District 2 State Senator Jim Hendren of Sulphur Springs is Hutchinson's nephew.[26] Asa Hutchinson's son, Asa Hutchinson III has been arrested multiple times for driving offenses to include arrests in 2019, 2018 and 2016 for DWI and an arrest for possession of a controlled substance at a music festival in 2016.[27]

Electoral history

2014 Republican primary results[28]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Asa Hutchinson 130,752 72.95
Republican Curtis Coleman 48,473 27.05
Total votes 179,225 100
2014 Arkansas gubernatorial election[29]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Asa Hutchinson 470,429 55.44% +21.81%
Democratic Mike Ross 352,115 41.49% -22.93%
Libertarian Frank Gilbert 16,319 1.92% N/A
Green Josh Drake 9,729 1.15% -0.71%
Total votes 848,592 100.0% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic
2018 Republican primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Asa Hutchinson (incumbent) 145,251 69.7
Republican Jan Morgan 63,009 30.3
Total votes 208,260 100.0
2018 Arkansas gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Asa Hutchinson (incumbent) 582,406 65.33% +9.89%
Democratic Jared Henderson 283,218 31.77% -9.72%
Libertarian Mark West 25,885 2.90% +0.98%
Total votes 891,509 100.0% N/A
Republican hold


  1. ^ "Beardsworth Heads DHS Transport". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Hutchinson family of Laurens County, South Carolina, and descendants". Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "U.S. gun lobby ally to lead NRA plan for armed guards at schools". Reuters. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  4. ^ [1] Archived October 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ [2] Archived June 24, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ [3] Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Eugene Scott. "Dale Bumpers dead: Former U.S. senator and Arkansas governor was 90". CNN. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Tapper, Jake (October 12, 1999). "The conversion of Asa Hutchinson". Salon. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2013.[better source needed]
  9. ^ NDSN (Summer 1999). "US House Approves Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill". National Drug Strategy Network. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  10. ^ "The Oak Ridger Online - Opinion - David Broder: A needed debate on U.…". June 29, 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "Did Bush-Era DEA Head Endorse Medical Marijuana?". The Weed Blog. June 13, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  12. ^ "Immigration plan envisions 'incentives' to illegal aliens". Washington Times. August 10, 2004. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  13. ^ a b [4] Archived July 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Who's at home for DHS -- GCN". GCN. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  15. ^ "Task Force members" (PDF). The Constitution Project. December 17, 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  16. ^ "Task Force on Detainee Treatment Launched". The Constitution Project. December 17, 2010. Archived from the original on December 15, 2010.
  17. ^ "Think tank plans study of how US treats detainees". Wall Street Journal. December 17, 2010. Archived from the original on December 19, 2010. Former FBI Director William Sessions, former Arkansas U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a retired Army general and a retired appeals court judge in Washington are among 11 people selected for a task force that will meet for the first time in early January, said Virginia Sloan, a lawyer and president of The Constitution Project.
  18. ^ NRA "school safety" plan calls for trained, armed school staff. CBS News. Published: April 2, 2013.
  19. ^ TITLE. Associated Press (via Orange County Register). Published: April 2, 2013.
  20. ^ Lawrence O'Donnell Prosecutes NRA Spokesperson Asa Hutchinson To The Hilt (VIDEO) Archived 2013-04-06 at the Wayback Machine. The Big Slice. Published: April 2, 2013.
  21. ^ Brantley, Max (May 17, 2013). "Davy Carter won't make race for governor". Arkansas Times. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  22. ^ Hutchinson, Asa. "Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  23. ^ Dwyer, Colin (April 14, 2017). "Federal Court Blocks 7 Executions Set For 11-Day Span In Arkansas". NPR. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  24. ^ Hardy, Benjamin (December 17, 2018). "Update: Work requirement ends Medicaid coverage for 4,600 more Arkansans in December". Arkansas Times. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  25. ^ Gstalter, Morgan (February 19, 2019). "Arkansas governor signs 'trigger' abortion ban bill". The Hill. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  26. ^ "Hendren, Jim Paul". Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  27. ^ "Gov. Hutchinson's Son Arrested For DUI". KFSM-TV. May 19, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  28. ^ "2014 Arkansas Preferential Primary Elections and Nonpartisan Election May 20, 2014". Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  29. ^ "November 4, 2014 General election and nonpartisan runoff election Official results". Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved November 23, 2014.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bill Clark
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Mike Huckabee
Preceded by
Mike Huckabee
Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Jim Keet
Preceded by
Jim Keet
Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas
2014, 2018
Most recent
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Tim Hutchinson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
John Boozman
Political offices
Preceded by
William Simpkins
Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Succeeded by
Karen Tandy
Preceded by
Mike Beebe
Governor of Arkansas
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Arkansas
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mike Parson
as Governor of Missouri
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Arkansas
Succeeded by
Gretchen Whitmer
as Governor of Michigan
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