May 23, 2014

Asa for Arkansas

Asa in Texarkana
Asa in Texarkana
On election night one thing was made clear regarding Arkansas, and that is Arkansas Republicans want Asa for Governor.  While Curtis Coleman rallied supporters and fired the imagination and the desire of people to be involved in the party, ultimately the majority of those votes went to Asa.  Nobody can downplay the impact that Curtis’ travels and message has had on the state.  He has fueled a growing desire in the party to take back this country and this state and return it to the Constitutional foundations.  Voters hurried to the poles and voted and when the dust settled, the outcome was Asa for Arkansas.

Asa has served in Congress, he was the Director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and he was Under Secretary of Homeland Security.  This is an impressive resume for a man who has now turned his attention toward the home he loves, Arkansas. 

With an impressive resume and an outstanding history, I expected to meet an Asa Hutchinson who strolled into the room and took command from the podium.   I expected him to shake hands, tell participants what he was going to do for Arkansas, and tell participants everything that is wrong with his opponent in the primary.  The Asa I met for the first time a few weeks ago was completely different from what I had expected.

While Asa did shake hands with participants, he did none of the other things I expected.  He did not take charge of the meeting from a podium, but instead he stood among his family and the participants and spoke directly to the people in the room.  He spoke about his desire to serve as governor, and then spent a lot of time praising others, including family members serving in the military, and talking about Arkansas.  Asa never once said a negative comment about his opponent and in fact praised Curtis Coleman for the work of uniting the party.  During the gathering, I had the opportunity to talk directly with Asa and was shocked.

Asa approached me and introduced himself simply as “Asa Hutchinson.”  I shook hands with him and told him my name.  I stood there awkwardly for a moment expecting Asa to do the usual political thing and tell me why he is the best candidate, but instead he did something no other political candidate I have ever met has done.  Maybe they are doing this someplace, but I’ve never met one except for Asa who has done this particular thing.  Asa simply said, “So, tell me about yourself.”  He then stood silently, apparently waiting on me to tell my life story to him.  I really was caught off guard and did not know what to say.  I finally stumbled out a few words about my work history, what I do now, and the fact that I was simply happy to be at the event.  Asa nodded, and then began to talk with me briefly about disability services, an area of my work, in Arkansas.

It was later that I learned from a State Representative, that Asa is the sort of person who wants to get to know each voter and to hear what is important to that voter.  He wants to see how he can help once elected governor.  Suddenly it occurred to me, that despite having spent time in some of the most powerful positions in the United States, Asa Hutchinson still wanted to know what regular, everyday Arkansas people needed from government.  He wanted to address those concerns that are often specific to a state and sometimes a region of that state.  I learned that day that Asa was not simply for Asa.  Asa is, and has always been, for Arkansas.  In November, Arkansas will finally elect a Governor not looking to improve a political resume, but looking to improve the state.