by Max Brantley
The overnight web scan is full of items referencing Mike Huckabee's growing recognition in the race for president. But being a Republican liberals love has its downside among followers of the party in which he's currently seeking the nomination.
More of the same in this blog that quotes a column ripping Huck by the Wall Street Journal's John Fund (it quotes Betsy Hagan of the Arkansas Eagle Forum, one of many conservative Republicans who were happy to see Huck in the rear view mirror.) Having John Fund against you would, in some cases, make me inclined to be for you. Some cases.
From Fund's column:
Phyllis Schlafly, president of the national Eagle Forum, is even more blunt. "He destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas, and left the Republican Party a shambles," she says. "Yet some of the same evangelicals who sold us on George W. Bush as a 'compassionate conservative' are now trying to sell us on Mike Huckabee."
The business community in Arkansas is split. Some praise Mr. Huckabee's efforts to raise taxes to repair roads and work with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. Free-market advocates are skeptical. "He has zero intellectual underpinnings in the conservative movement," says Blant Hurt, a former part owner of, and columnist for, Arkansas Business magazine. "He's hostile to free trade, hiked sales and grocery taxes, backed sales taxes on Internet purchases, and presided over state spending going up more than twice the inflation rate."
Mr. Huckabee told me yesterday he also cut some taxes, and has taken the Americans for Tax Reform no-tax pledge. Former GOP state Rep. Randy Minton is not impressed. In 1999, he was urged by the governor to back a gas-tax increase. "I'd taken a pledge against higher taxes, but he sniffed that my constituents didn't understand what we have to do in state government to make it work," Mr. Minton says. "His support for taxes split the Republican Party, and damaged our name brand." The Club for Growth notes that only a handful of the 33 current GOP state legislators back their former governor.
And, in Arkansas at least, the liberals aren't singing his praises either.