Mike Huckabee born August 24, 1955 in Hope Arkansas
is the current Republican Governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas.
GOVERNOR OF ARKANSAS
Ascent to Governor
On 15 July 1996 he was sworn in as Governor of Arkansas to fill the vacancy created by Governor Jim Guy Tucker's resignation due to a felony conviction in the Whitewater scandal. This was a dramatic moment for Arkansas as Tucker at first resigned, and then rescinded his resignation as Huckabee was preparing to be sworn in. For a short while the event had the makings of a constitutional crisis not seen in Arkansas since the Brooks-Baxter War in the 19th century. Huckabee remained calm and won praise for his handling of the situation from both citizens and state leaders of both parties. Within a few hours Tucker reinstated his resignation and Huckabee was sworn in.
Soon after taking office, Huckabee signed legislation creating a health insurance program designed to provide insurance to children of families who could not qualify for Medicaid but could not afford private insurance. He signed legislation to cut taxes, and simplified the automobile registration procedure which had long been a source of complaint from the average citizen.
FIRST FULL TERM
In November of 1998, Huckabee was elected to a full four-year term, receiving the highest percentage of votes for a Republican seeking statewide office in Arkansas history.
At the beginning of his first full term, Huckabee led a successful public relations campaign for a massive bond program to pay for major road reconstruction (Arkansas had, at that time, the lowest-rated highway system among the 50 states). This campaign drew praise because Arkansas voters had traditionally shied away from public debt, having experienced a major bond scandal that affected the state's finances for the latter half of the 19th century.
Huckabee, an avid outdoorsman, also led a successful campaign to dedicate via constitutional amendment 1/8 of one cent of the state sales tax to improvement of the state's park system and natural resources, which had fallen into serious disrepair (and was an embarrassment for a state billing itself as "The Natural State"). The improvements could not have come at a better time: the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in eastern Arkansas has led to increased tourist activity among bird watchers.
In 2000, Huckabee also led a widely praised campaign to convince the public to funnel 100 percent of the state's tobacco settlement revenues into the state's healthcare system, rather than into the general fund (as other states had done, where it could be used for non-health related purposes).
SECOND FULL TERM
In November of 2002 he was reelected to another four-year term (due to term limits, this will be his final term as governor). By the end of his term Huckabee will have the third-longest tenure of any Arkansas Governor (only Orval Faubus, who served 6 consecutive 2-year terms (1955-1967), and Clinton, who served 11 years, 11 months (1979-1981; 1983-1992), had longer tenures).
He was made the chair of the Southern Governors' Association in 1999 and served in that capacity through 2000. He has chaired the Southern Growth Policies Board, the Southern Region Education Board, the Southern Technology Council, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, and currently serves as Chair of the Education Commission of the States, and the National Governors Association.
In 2003, the courts in Arkansas declared that the state's school funding procedure was unconstitutional and ordered the state to produce a fair system. Huckabee proposed a controversial plan that would consolidate many of the state's smaller school districts. School consolidation is very unpopular in rural Arkansas and may be the "third rail" of Arkansas politics. The court order has not yet been satisfied.
After Hurricane Katrina made landfall and numerous evacuees fled to Arkansas (the number could reach 100,000 according to the Governor's Office), Huckabee ordered state agencies to "take care of those human needs first and worry about the paperwork later". State parks have offered deep discounts, waived pet restrictions, and are bumping other reservations in favor of evacuees. Shelters have opened up in nearly every portion of the state, and Huckabee has requested that the entire state be declared a disaster area.