Gov. Mike Huckabee: The Conservative Outsider

Governor Mike Huckabee was always an outsider. He challenged—and defeated—the Clinton machine in Arkansas. When he first assumed office, Democrats literally nailed-shut his office door from the inside, ransacked his furniture, and siphoned his budget. It took weeks before he could set up his desk. But he never lost his cool and he always delivered.

Outsiders like Governor Huckabee have the support of the people, not political machines or powerful interest groups in Washington, D.C. willing to say and do whatever it takes to hand-pick their next president. Outsiders like Governor Huckabee scare the devil out of the establishment and their palace guard of failed politicians and paid political hacks. So I am not surprised by recent false attacks on Governor Huckabee’s record. Americans deserve the truth.

Gov. Huckabee is a proud, pro-growth, fiscal conservative. His record consists of more than just policy papers, aspirational co-sponsorships and speeches. He governed a state for over a decade, and his record speaks for itself, including:

  • Balanced state budget each and every year in office.
  • Cut taxes nearly 100 times.
  • Returned almost $400 million to state taxpayers.
  • First governor to pass a broad-based tax cut in state history.
  • Doubled the standard deduction to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for married couples, as well as the childcare tax credit (what does that mean was it doubled?)
  • Eliminated the marriage penalty.
  • Eliminated the capital gains tax on the sale of a home.
  • Eliminated state income taxes for families below the poverty line.
  • Reduced capital gains taxes for businesses and individuals.
  • Indexed income taxes to protect people from paying higher taxes because of “bracket creep.”
  • Cut welfare rolls by almost 50 percent.
  • Fought to expand Medicaid cost-sharing for beneficiaries and increase “skin-in-the-game.”
  • Pushed Congress for state flexibility to manage our Medicaid program more efficiently.
  • Left office with a surplus of almost $1 billion—a state record—setting the stage for further tax reductions.

As a Ronald Reagan conservative, I know it is intellectually dishonest to selectively slice-and-dice a ten-year tax record. Reagan increased pension and real estate taxes in 1986. However, he did so while simplifying the tax code and reducing overall rates. When taken as a whole, Gov. Huckabee also substantially reduced the tax burden on state residents.

Critics unfairly blame Gov. Huckabee for supposed spending increases in ‘pass-through’ programs—ultimately controlled by Washington bureaucrats and Congress. However, spending which Gov. Huckabee actually controlled was nearly flat. It increased by about six-tenths of one percent per yearduring his decade-long tenure.

Gov. Huckabee also has an impressive record on education. He passed the “Fair Dismissal Law,” which gave administrators tools to overcome labor union shenanigans and fire teachers. He passed a school emergency act, which gave the state school board authority to fire principals, remove incompetent teachers and shut down failed schools. He also consolidated dozens of school districts across the state to streamline administrative expenses and improve economies of scale. Closing small rural schools and football programs was politically radioactive, but he did what was necessary to protect taxpayers.

Lastly, under Gov. Huckabee’s leadership, our state employees and state legislators, including the governor, consistently ranked as some of the lowest paid in the nation. In contrast, Members of Congress – including the former member of Congress – currently being paid handsomely to attack Governor Huckabee – earned more than twice than our governor! That small fact should reveal enough.

Gov. Huckabee has an impressive, Reagan-esque, fiscal conservative pro-growth record. He was, and is, an outsider who has always had the people on his side, not the powerful interests. So, just as Reagan was attacked by the establishment before him, Governor Huckabee is bound to get attacked as well. But today, 35 years later, it is again time: America deserves another outsider who turned conservative rhetoric into legislative reality through strong executive leadership —particularly in a Democratic-run state.

Doyle Webb is Chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas. He is former State Senator for District 14, parts of Saline and Perry Counties, from 1995 through April 2002.