Sen. Hutchinson unsure about 2018; considering 2022 race for attorney general

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 805 views 

Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson will decide in a couple of weeks if he will run for re-election in what would be a contested race with Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, and said he is seriously considering running for attorney general in 2022.

In an interview Wednesday, Hutchinson said he conducted a poll ahead of his race with Hammer, and the results were encouraging. He is talking to family, friends and his law partners as he decides whether or not to run.

A race between Hutchinson and Hammer would pit two current Republican officeholders against each other for Senate District 33, which Hutchinson has occupied since 2011. Previously, Hutchinson served in the House from 2000-06. Hammer has served in the House since 2011. Hutchinson lives in Little Rock, while Hammer lives in Benton.

Hammer announced Oct. 3 that he was running for the Senate seat. Asked to respond to Hutchinson’s comments in an interview Wednesday, he said, “Anybody that decides to run for office has to make up their own individual mind. They don’t need to let anybody else do their thinking for them because of what’s involved. I respect whatever decision he makes.”

Hammer said he had not taken any polls and would question the validity of any poll taken this far from the election.

Hutchinson said if he does not run again, he plans to build his legal practice and is “very interested” in running for attorney general in 2022. If he does not run for re-election, he could spend the next four years laying a financial and statewide political foundation for that campaign. He does not believe he needs to be serving in the Senate to make that run.

The current attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, has announced she is running for re-election in 2018. She will be term-limited in 2022.

Hutchinson took some controversial positions in the 2017 legislative session, including leading a move to increase training requirements for a bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry guns on college campuses, opposing a tort reform measure that voters will consider in 2018, and, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helping kill a bill that would have banned mixed gender use of bathrooms in public buildings.

He said the 2018 race did not factor into those stances.

“This session, I took some votes and positions that may not fit within a Republican Party orthodoxy,” he said. “I think they were conservative and consistent with conservative policies, but may not always be the Republican policies. But those (were) not any indication of whether or not I’m going to run again. That was just me doing what I think was the right thing to do.”

Hammer said he has heard from three individuals considering running for his House seat, including Jason Kelly, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Saline County, who would run as a Republican.