LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – While a buzz accompanies Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s presidential aspirations, he is far from being the first Arkansan to run for president.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas lists 15 people from the Natural State who have made the run for the highest office in the land. The list dates back to 1904 when George Edwin Taylor from Pulaski County ran as a member of the National Liberty Party, losing the election to Theodore Roosevelt.
Taylor was the first African American to run for the American presidency.
In 1924 Joseph Taylor Robinson from Lonoke County ran as a Democrat but lost in the convention process to nominee John W. Davis. This was the first time someone from Arkansas was on a major party ticket.
The Liberty Party fielded William “Coin” Harvey in 1932, who lost the election to Franklin Roosevelt. His nomination announcement was held in northwest Arkansas at the Mount Ne resort, which Harvey had founded.
In 1944 and again in 1948, Gerald Smith ran, losing in turn to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
A virulent antisemitic, Smith ran as a member of the America First Party in 1944, and from the Christian Nationalist Party in 1948. Smith was the builder of the landmark Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs and is buried at the foot of it.
Greasy Creek’s own Orval Faubusran in 1960 under the white supremacist National States’ Rights candidate. He was Arkansas governor from 1955 to 1967 and achieved national notoriety for calling out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine Black children from attending Central High School in 1957.
Fabus’ actions led to then President Dwight Eisenhower federalizing the National Guard and the students being admitted in what is remembered as the Central High Crisis. Faubus lost the presidency to John Kennedy.
The one-time leader of the Black Panther Party Eldrige Cleaver ran for president in 1968. The Jefferson County resident ran as a Peace and Freedom Party member and lost to Richard Nixon.
Also in 1968, Winthrop Rockefeller ran for president as a Republican. An occupant of the governor’s mansion at the time, he lost the nomination to Richard Nixon.
White County’s Wilbur Mills was a well-established Washington power broker when he ran in 1972. Despite his role as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he lost the nomination to Democrat George McGovern.
Arkansas did not see a candidacy again until 1988 when Dale Bumpers explored the presidency but chose not to run. The next Arkansas candidate ran for much greater acclaim.
Campaigning as “The Man from Hope,” Bill Clinton was governor of the state when he ran and won the presidency in 1992 and again in 1996. His two terms as the 40th and 42nd governor ended with his presidential election.
Pine Bluff’s Mary Cal Hollis from Pine Bluff was nominated as a Socialist Party USA candidate in 1996. She sought the party’s 2004 nomination but withdrew before the party convention.
Next on the list of Arkansas presidential candidates is Democrat candidate Wesley Clark of Pulaski County. He ran in the 2004 primaries but withdrew in February against the growing popularity of John Kerry.
Another Clinton is on the list after Hilary Rodham Clinton ran in 2008 as a Democrat. She lost in the primaries to Barrack Obama, who won the presidency.
Clinton ran again in 2016 after a stint as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. She lost that election to Donald Trump.
The 44th governor of the state Mike Huckabee ran in the Republican nomination process in 2008 and again in 2016. Also from Hope, he finished behind John McCain in 2008 and Donald Trump in 2016.
Hutchinson rounds out the list as the former governor and DEA head looks to head back to Washington.