Like many other Arkansans, I watched the news media coverage of the Whitewater verdicts and was stunned to learn that the jury had convicted the current Arkansas Governor, Jim Guy Tucker, of two felony crimes. Within hours of the conviction I was shocked again when Governor Tucker announced his resignation. The thought that immediately came to my mind was Mike Huckabee's going to be governor. My next thought was what will Mike do about the senate race.
Within the next few days my questions were answered when Mike announced that he would withdraw from the U. S. Senate race and would instead concentrate all of his efforts on serving as governor.
Suddenly we find ourselves at the beginning of what may be the greatest swing of political power in Arkansas this century. We are at the dawning of a new day in Arkansas politics. Never have we had a governor who believes virtually everything Family Council believes regarding the preservation of the family. Never have we had such a close working relationship with the governor. What a difference it will be to go before the Arkansas Legislature with the governor behind us!
While Mike Huckabee cannot fix all that is wrong with Arkansas, as governor he will be in a position to effect changes in state politics. The governor makes many appointments ranging from the heads of state agencies to various task forces and commissions. He will hold sway over programs like the Governor's School and outcome-based education. In the 1997 legislative session, he will be able to present his own legislative package that can include much-needed pro-family legislation.
I am cautiously optimistic, however, because I do have concerns. Will Governor Huckabee be able to get any of his plans for change through an entrenched Legislature? How will literally thousands of state employees relate to their new boss? Will Governor Huckabee find enough qualified people who are willing to fill the positions that may be vacant in various state agencies? What if the new appointees don't do any better job than their predecessors? Will we look back on this year as the beginning of lasting change in Arkansas politics, or will it be another lost opportunity?
Another consideration is whether Mike will be able to fulfill the expectations of his supporters. Many people have high expectations of his ability to make significant changes. Some may expect him to do the impossible. When he became lieutenant governor, some people criticized Huckabee for failing to do things he had no ability or power to do.
I spoke with Mike shortly after he gave up the race for U. S. Senate and he expressed to me his concerns about his own supporters having unrealistic or unreasonable expectations as to what he can accomplish as governor. He expressed concerns that his efforts to make changes might not progress as quickly as some people believe they should. Like most of us, he knows that unnecessary criticism from friends and supporters hurts far more than the insults of opponents.
Mike has assured me that he is committed to positive changes in state government. I believe we can be confident in this fact. However, we should all give him room to make decisions that are best for Arkansas in the long run.
We should also give him room to make honest mistakes without writing him off as "fallen from grace." We should not be too quick to pass judgment, and we should offer our prayers more than our opinions.
I hope you will pray especially that Mike will surround himself with Godly advisers and staff. I hope you will pray for his wife Janet and their children as they make this transition.
Let's also remember to pray for Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. While many people may find it easy to gloat over his misfortunes, I don't believe this attitude is Christ-like. He and his family have never faced more difficult circumstances. We need to remember that God loves them and wants what is best for them. I believe we should take the same attitude and pray along those lines.
Jerry Cox is president of the Arkansas Family Council. This article first appeared in the July issue of the group's newsletter, the Arkansas Citizen.
Print headline: "High expectations for new governor" July 12, 1996.