Former U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey,
a native of Pine Bluff who served in Congress from 1993-2001, has died of complications from Parkinson's Disease. He was 77.
Talk Business has the story
on the man who upset Democrat Bill McCuen
in his 1992 bid for the Fourth District seat and became the first Republican to hold the seat since Reconstruction. Dickey was a businessman, an attorney and owner of Taco Bell and Baskin-Robbins franchises.
From Talk Business:
Known for his colorful storytelling and, at times, unconventional political style, Dickey remained in the headlines throughout his time in Congress. A staunch conservative, Dickey was strong on fiscal matters and an unwavering pro-life advocate. He slept in his office instead of renting a Washington, D.C. flat and returned home nearly every weekend to work his expansive district and connect with constituents.
Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:
“Jay was one of those unique people who loved life and everyone around him. I had the privilege of serving with Jay in Congress, and I have never seen anyone who was so determined to fight for the people in his district. He made friends easily, and he stuck by them. I played basketball with Jay in the House gym, where, like everywhere else in his life, he was a competitor. He will be missed."
In 2015, Dickey expressed regret for legislation
he introduced and got passed restricting research on gun violence, and made an appearance on the Daily Show to talk about his change of heart. From a Huffington Post story at the time:
When he helped pass a restriction of federal funding for gun violence research in 1996, the goal wasn't to be so suffocating, he insisted. But the measure was just that, dampening federal research for years and discouraging researchers from entering the field.
Now, as mass shootings pile up, including last week's killing of nine at a community college in Oregon, Dickey admitted to carrying a sense of responsibility for progress not made.
"I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time," Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, told the Huffington Post in an interview. "I have regrets."