In a preview of what is likely to be more common as the primary election cycle heats up, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jan Morgan said Monday (Feb. 5) Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson is not a true Republican and she’ll make sure Sharia law does not come to Arkansas.
Morgan, from Hot Springs, is a gun range owner known for her vocal advocacy of Second Amendment gun rights. Gov. Hutchinson announced his re-election bid earlier last year. He was first elected to the post in November 2014. Other candidates for Arkansas governor include Democrat Jared Henderson and Libertarian candidate Mark West.
Morgan spoke Monday night in Jonesboro to a crowd of more than 100, saying Gov. Hutchinson is not a conservative, and he coerces Republican legislators into supporting Democratic policies. Since his election in 2014, state government spending has increased significantly, and Hutchinson has expanded taxes and regulatory burdens for businesses, she said.
“If we had a true Republican in the governor’s office I would not be standing here today … He (Hutchinson) doesn’t like the conservative message. That’s why he doesn’t like me,” she told those at the event held by the Jonesboro Tea Party.
Morgan said she confronted several legislators more than a year ago after she received a list of Republicans who were supposedly voting for Democratic policies. She said the list was provided to her by state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas. Morgan said lawmakers told her that Hutchinson was influencing their votes.
At one point, Hutchinson agreed to a meeting with her. The two sat on opposite ends of a long table, she said. The two argued about firearm open carry, his influence on legislators, and other topics. Hutchinson told her he knew she would be in the race for the long haul.
“It was a very tense meeting,” she said.
Without citing examples, Morgan claimed there are documented instances where judges across the country abdicated state and federal laws within their courtrooms in favor of Sharia Law, or Islamic Law derived from the Koran and Muslim customs. She said a bill was passed by the Arkansas Legislature prohibiting foreign laws from being used in courtrooms, but Hutchinson did not sign it. She said he told her he couldn’t find a single instance of this occurring in an Arkansas courtroom.
“We will not have Sharia Law in Arkansas under Jan Morgan’s leadership,” she said.
HB 1041, sponsored by Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, was approved by the House and Senate and was enacted as state policy – legislative intent rather than codified state law – without Gov. Hutchinson’s signature. The bill stipulated that “it shall be the public policy of this state to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws” in the courts.
If elected, Morgan said live stream video of legislative committees will be placed on the state’s official web site because the public needs to be aware of how their legislators are voting and making decisions in the state capitol. However, under House and Senate rules, legislative committee hearings are under control of the legislative branch of government not the executive branch. The Arkansas House has been live-streaming most of its committee hearings since the 2011 session. The Arkansas Senate does not live-stream its committees, nor are joint committees typically live-streamed.
In other comments to the group, Morgan said she thinks colleges and universities that receive state funds should not serve as “sanctuary campuses” for illegal immigrants. If Hutchinson was a true conservative, he would have ordered a spending freeze after his election, she said.
Morgan vowed to not take lobbyist contributions, and if she loses the primary she said she will exit politics. She lobbied Collins-Smith and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin among others to challenge Hutchinson in the primary. Each declined, and it left her with only one alternative – run herself.
“We have to defeat the Democrat in my primary,” she said, referring to Hutchinson.
Gov. Hutchinson told Talk Business & Politics that Morgan’s belief he has raised taxes is void of reality.
“My opponent in the primary continues to make up facts as she continues to distort the record and mislead the voters. The General Assembly has not passed any tax increases and my Administration and has lowered taxes by over $150 million per year. To say I am not conservative is pretty hilarious. When you have been criticized as long as I have for standing for conservative values you wonder where Jan has been for the last 40 years,” Hutchinson noted.
And as to Sharia Law, Gov. Hutchinson said the legislation was a solution in search of problem.
“I have practiced law for many years in Arkansas and we do not have Sharia law in Arkansas. Let me be clear, I oppose Sharia law. Furthermore I oppose Sharia law being used in Arkansas courts. The legislation in question addressed the application of foreign law, not Sharia law. We need to stop passing unnecessary laws that attempt to address problems that do not exist. I allowed the bill to become law even though I thought it was not necessary.”
Gov. Hutchinson said when he became governor he ordered spending to be cut across the board, enacted a hiring freeze, and cut unnecessary regulations.