Kim D. Hendren (born February 6, 1938) is the Republican minority leader and the chairman of the Energy Committee of the Arkansas State Senate. A native and resident of Gravette in Benton County in northwestern Arkansas, Hendren represents District 9. He is a former Democrat in the most Republican part of his state. Hendren is also an announced candidate for his party's nomination for the U.S. Senate in the 2010 primary election to oppose incumbent Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln.
Education and family
Hendren graduated in 1960 with a degree in engineering from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He is an Independent Protestant who has been active since 1963 in the Gideons International, the men's group which distributes Bibles in such public places as hotel rooms. He is also active in the Kiwanis Club. Hendren is married to the former Marylea Hutchinson, a sister of former U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson and former U.S. Representative Asa Hutchinson. In 2002, Tim Hutchinson lost his reelection bid to Mark Pryor for the other U.S. Senate seat from Arkansas. Asa Hutchinson lost a Senate race in 1986 to Dale Bumpers and the gubernatorial campaign in 2006 to Mike Beebe. Hendren is an engineer and holds investments in an automobile dealership, real estate, and poultry interests. The Hendrens have four children, Mark, Jim, Gayla, and Hope.
Known for his folksy demeanor at the capitol, Hendren considers himself a fiscal conservative and voted against changing the Arkansas unemployment law to accept $59 million in federal stimulus money. He voted in February 2009 to support an increase in his state's tobacco tax. In 2008, he backed an increase in the severance tax on natural gas. He has also authored a bill to require motorcyclists to wear helmets or demonstrate proof of health insurance.
From 1967-1969, Hendren served on the Gravette City Council and later the Gravette School Board. In 1978, Hendren was first elected as a Democrat to the state Senate at the same time that Clinton won his first two-year term as governor. Hendren won the Senate seat in 1978, after the incumbent Republican, Jim Caldwell, a Church of Christ minister from Rogers, stepped down after a decade in office.
In 1982, Hendren ran fourth in a five-candidate field, with 21,829 votes (3.85 percent), in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. After defeating Joe Purcell in a runoff election, former Governor Bill Clinton that year then toppled Republican Frank D. White, who had unseated Clinton in the Ronald W. Reagan sweep of 1980.
Because Hendren ran for governor, he could not seek reelection to the state Senate. In 2001, he returned to the legislature, having won a single term in 2000—his first as a Republican—in the Arkansas House of Representatives. In 2003, he returned to the state Senate twenty years after he left the position. He ran unopposed in 2008.
U.S. Senate candidacy
In May 2009, Hendren apologized after it was reported that during a meeting of the Pulaski County Republican Committee in Little Rock, he referred to Democratic U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York as "that Jew" after Schumer had criticized the Republican Party. "I ought not to have referred to it at all. When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people. I shouldn't have gotten into this Jewish business because it distracts from the issue. . . I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on The Andy Griffith Show," Hendren said, adding that he does not use a Teleprompter and sometimes mispeaks in haste. Schumer said that he accepted the apology. Hendren's comments drew a reprimand from Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who said that "Comments like this are completely inappropriate and don't have any place in public or private discourse."
Hendren opposed the confirmation of United States Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. He also objects to runaway federal spending while each state is meanwhile required to balance its budget. He opposes Lincoln's vote to subsidize the giant AIG insurance company.
Hendren said that he favors strict enforcement of immigration laws but would "have to look at" potential amnesty for illegal immigrants already living in the United States. He opposed charging only in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants living in Arkansas.
Hendren is the first Republican to enter the upcoming Senate contest, but state Senator Gilbert Baker of Conway in Faulkner County, a former state Republican chairman, and Tim Griffin, a former interim U.S. Attorney, are considered potential candidates.
- Project Vote Smart: Senator Kim Hendren (R). Votesmart.org.
- Gravette's Hendren Announces Challenge for U.S. Senate Seat. NWAonline.net.
- Michael McAuliff, "Oy vey! Arkansas State Senator Kim Hendren calls Chuck Schumer 'that Jew'". New York Daily News.
- Doug Thompson, Stephens Media, "Motorcycle helmet, tarp bill stall in committee". Arkansasnews.com.
- Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, Arkansas, November 9, 1978
- Arkansas Outlook, Republican Party newsletter, November–December 1968
- Arkansas Secretary of State, Democratic gubernatorial primary election returns from 1982
- Senator Kim Hendren (R). Arkleg.state.ar.us.