LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Republicans said Monday they will no longer financially help three state House candidates whose racially charged writings have come under fire, including one lawmaker who called slavery a “blessing in disguise” and another who labeled Abraham Lincoln a “war criminal.”
State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb said the party would not further contribute to the campaigns of House candidate Charlie Fuqua, state Rep. Jon Hubbard or Rep. Loy Mauch. However, the party stopped short of asking the three to withdraw their candidacies as the GOP faced a potential headache in its claim to win control of the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction.
The move was the latest by GOP leaders to distance the party from the trio after renewed attention to their writing. Hubbard called slavery a “blessing in disguise” in a 2009 book and wrote that African-Americans were better off than they would have been had they not been captured and shipped to the United States.
Fuqua advocated the deportation of all Muslims in a 2011 self-published book, and Mauch has criticized Lincoln in a series of letters to a newspaper dating back several years.
Webb said the decision to no longer contribute to Hubbard and Fuqua’s campaigns was influenced in part by their comments, which the party has called offensive. He would not say the reason for cutting off Mauch. The three candidates did not return calls or emails Monday.
“There’s just no plan to make any further financial contributions,” Webb told The Associated Press.
A party spokeswoman later said the plan would include any in-kind contributions. The three each received $2,500 worth of services from Impact Management Group as a contribution from the party in May.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, a Republican who represents central Arkansas, on Monday called on Mauch to give contributions Griffin made to his campaign to charity over letters he’s written to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Griffin has made a similar demand to Hubbard and Fuqua over the weekend.
Mauch called Abraham Lincoln a “war criminal” in a 2007 letter and wrote “Jesus Christ did condone slavery” in a 2009 letter.
“I read a sample of Rep. Mauch’s statements, and they range from outrageous to historically inaccurate and anachronistic to downright odd,” Griffin said in a statement released by a spokesman. “As we all know, both parties have folks that say ridiculous things, but I would not have financially supported Mauch had I known about these statements.”
Webb would not call Mauch’s statements offensive and said they were “made from a historical perspective.”
“While I hold a contrasting view of those events, I recognize Rep. Mauch’s right to a different perspective of history,” he said.
Fuqua, who served in the Arkansas House from 1996 to 1998, wrote there is “no solution to the Muslim problem short of expelling all followers of the religion from the United States,” in his 2011 book, titled “God’s Law.” Fuqua is challenging two-term Democratic Rep. James McLean of Batesville.
A top House Republican announced Monday morning that he would back McLean in his re-election bid over Fuqua, but declined to say whether his decision was influenced by the former lawmaker’s book.
“James has been somebody I’ve worked with for four years and has earned my respect,” said Rep. Davy Carter, R-,Cabot, chairman of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee. “I’d like to see him re-elected.”
Fuqua said over the weekend that he believed his views were “fairly well-accepted by most people.”
Hubbard wrote in his 2009 self-published book, “Letters To The Editor: Confessions Of A Frustrated Conservative,” that “the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.”
Hubbard defended his writing to a Jonesboro television station and said his views were being distorted by Democrats. Hubbard is running against Democrat Harold Copenhaver.
“They attacked me because I’m a conservative, and they’ve taken small portions of my book out of context, and distorted what was said to make it appear that I am racist, which is totally and completely false,” Hubbard said in the statement released to KAIT.
Though the books and letters to the editor had been out for some time, many of the racially charged passages hadn’t surfaced until they were highlighted over the weekend by bloggers and local websites, including the Arkansas Times and Talk Business.
Arkansas is the only state in the old confederacy where Democrats control the Legislature and the governor’s mansion, and both parties are focusing on dozens of House and Senate races in the November election.
Webb said he didn’t believe the controversy over the writings would hurt the state GOP’s bid for legislative control, and accused Democrats of trying to distract voters from other issues.
“We are focused on putting people back to work, rebuilding our economy and working to stop the implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas, not on these historic events,” Webb said.
State Democratic Party Chairman Will Bond said the candidates’ statements they showed a clear choice for voters in the districts.
“Do we want to elect leaders who are interested in making sure our kids have a brighter future, who want to work with the governor on a positive agenda of progress or do we want to elect people who want to take the state backward?” Bond said.
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