Things just got interesting in the Republican primary. Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson announced Sunday his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination.
Hutchinson's formal announcement is set for April 26, but he revealed his intent to run on ABC's This Week, then followed up with a round of print interviews.
“I’ve traveled the country for six months. I hear people talk about the leadership of our country. I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts,” Hutchinson told ABC.
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Hutchinson's assertion made one wonder if he talked to any Republicans in that six-month jaunt. After all, Hutchinson's GOP successor in the governor's mansion, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, delivered the most foreboding State of the Union response in recent memory, declaring that President Biden was "the first man to surrender his presidency to a woke mob."
But Hutchinson's apparent naiveté about the GOP's unmoored vengeance politics is also what sets him apart from all the other Republican hopefuls playing to the MAGA cult. For instance, following Trump's indictment, Hutchinson sounded like a one-man anachronism.
After pointing out in a statement that a grand jury "found credible facts" on which to indict Trump, he added, “We need to wait on the facts and for our American system of justice to work like it does for thousands of Americans every day." Hutchinson served several years as a U.S. attorney in the '80s.
Every other GOP hopeful—including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, and former Vice President Mike Pence—jumped on some form of political prosecution (i.e., Trump victimization) perpetrated by a "Soros-backed" D.A.
In fact, Hutchinson's grounding in reality on the topic had one Daily Kos front pager remarking, "There's a reason Hutchinson hasn't announced and in all likelihood won't." That writer shall remain nameless (haha).
Hutchinson in the ABC interview also called on Trump to drop out of the race based on the indictment, saying the office of the presidency is "more important than any individual person.”
Again, tell that to the wild-eyed MAGA base.
Hutchinson's apparent detachment from the realities of today's Republican voters makes him an extreme long shot for the nomination. But his formalized presence in the race could still be an interesting facet of the contest, depending on how long he and his funding can last.
Though Hutchinson will neither lay a glove on Trump nor sway any of his committed cultists, his more principled observations about Trump's depravity will highlight the spinelessness of the rest of the field, particularly someone like Haley, who is loosely running as an establishment pro-Trump alternative.
For as long as Hutchinson remains in the race, his relative grounding in reality will reveal the ludicrousness of running a reality-based campaign and still pandering to Trump and his base. The two diametrically opposed propositions simply cannot coexist, if one's being honest. Someone like Haley is trying to paper over that fact. If Hutchison continues to bring even a modicum of cogent observations to the Republican contest, Haley's supposed lane will be blown to smithereens.
Hutchinson's perspective will also remind the small-but-critical slice of ticket splitters and conservative Biden voters what a trash heap today's Republican Party and its 2024 field truly is.
Whoever is funding Hutchinson's campaign, here's hoping they continue, because it's almost impossible to imagine he gets any traction with the party's grassroots and small-dollar donors.
State supreme court races are a favorite topic of ours, and there are literally dozens more on the ballot in 2024, so we're previewing the top battles with Carah Ong Whaley of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics on this week's episode of The Downballot podcast. Carah tells us how and why so much money has come to be spent on supreme court elections in recent decades before diving into next year's key contests, including several states where control is on the line, like Ohio, Michigan, and Montana. With the stakes high for redistricting reform, abortion rights, and democracy, progressives everywhere will want to stay up-to-date on all of these races.
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