The recent slew of anti-trans bills shows the GOP brand is built on blocking progress and keeping marginalized people down

transgender rights rally new york city
L.G.B.T. activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City.

  • Republicans have introduced a slew of anti-trans bills across the country, most notably in Arkansas.
  • This is just the latest example showing that the party is committed to stopping progress and keeping other Americans down.
  • Michael Gordon is a longtime Democratic strategist, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, and the principal for the strategic-communications firm Group Gordon.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republicans are the party of hate. The party of anti-. The party against progress. That is – and has been – their calling card for a generation.

Their motto should be: “We keep people down! We stand in the way of progress! Vote for us!” “

The latest – but not the last or first – group facing Republicans’ ire is transgender children. This was on full display in Arkansas, as the state recently passed a law that prevents transgender youth from accessing medical treatment to help their transition. And it seems this Arkansas law may only be the beginning of the GOP’s assault on trans kids.

But progress for transgender Americans is inevitable – and the Republican roadblocks are only temporary.

By the time we get to Arkansas

Among other things, the Republican brand proudly stands for standing against other Americans. It builds itself up by keeping others down. And the new law out of Arkansas is just the latest in a series of attacks on American’s civil rights and liberties.

Republicans have long been a roadblock on women’s rights. They opposed a 2019 vote on equal pay for women, and earlier this year, nearly every Republican in the House opposed the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act, which combats sexual assault and domestic violence against women, passed nearly unanimously. But every so often the bill needs to be voted on again for reauthorization, and this year, 172 Republicans opposed the bill. The rot at the heart of the Republican Party has eroded bipartisan support for women’s rights.

Republicans have gone to great lengths to leverage racial divide for political gain. As an electoral strategy, the party is more focused on winning by making it harder to vote instead of winning over a broader segment of the population. New voting restriction laws and rhetoric we see from the GOP today are the logical conclusion of a 50-year plan to define the Republican Party in opposition to rights for African Americans.

Former President Richard Nixon took the politics of racial grievance to a new level by pioneering a “Southern Strategy” that thrived off of racism against Black Americans. And now new laws making it harder to vote and giving Republican legislatures more ability to meddle in elections are cropping up all over the country in a movement that Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina called “the new Jim Crow.”

The Republican assault on non-whites extends to immigrants as well, with a white-nationalist talking point quickly taking center stage. Tucker Carlson is gleefully rehashing “replacement theory” for ratings gain, stating that immigrants are hell-bent on destroying and replacing white Americans. That this alt-right theory is proudly repeated on Fox News says everything you need to know about the modern GOP.

Republicans, naturally, have a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights – whether it be service in our military, the right to marry, or the ability to adopt children. But our country progressed, and Republicans could only slow, but not stop, the inevitable rights of LBGTQ Americans.

By the time we get to Arkansas, we know the playbook. Republicans will demean, delay and divide. They will dehumanize their fellow human beings. They will be the problem against progress. But the hearts and minds of Americans will be the triumph for trans Americans that beats back Republican fear.

The grand shrinking party

Trans Americans will be fully accepted and have every legal right eventually – but it won’t be because of Republicans. It will be despite Republicans.

Of course, there are vast numbers of good Republicans who aren’t Republicans because they live to hate. But their elected leaders are making cynical calculations about what makes some Americans tick. In doing so, they’re continuing to shrink what was once a big tent party.

As every group and American demographics simultaneously progress, Republicans will run out of people to hate and run out of people to turn off. And then they’ll just run out of people, living as a dramatically diminished party without inspiring ideas to take our country forward.

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Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson says debate over the anti-trans bill he vetoed is about ‘the future’ of the GOP

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.

  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson said discussion about the bill targeting trans youth represented “the future” of the GOP.
  • While Hutchinson vetoed the bill, the Arkansas state legislature quickly overturned his decision.
  • Hutchinson has received blowback from Republicans, including Trump, for his veto.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said Sunday the bill targeting healthcare for transgender youth he vetoed last week went “too far” and said the debate over such legislation is key in determining the direction of the GOP.

Hutchinson has been targeted by his own party for vetoing the legislation, including by former President Donald Trump who in a statement called the Arkansas governor a “lightweight RINO.”

“‘Bye-bye Asa,’ that’s the end of him!” Trump said.

But in the interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Hutchinson appeared to laugh off the former president’s comments when confronted with the comments made by him and other Republicans.

“Any time you go against the grain, you’re going to get that kind of blowback,” Hutchinson told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

Read: Every anti-trans bill US lawmakers introduced this year, from banning medication to jail time for doctors

As Insider’s Canela López previously reported, Hutchinson last week vetoed the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,HB 1570. The Arkansas state legislature, dominated by Republicans, overrode Hutchinson’s veto the next day.

The law bans doctors from prescribing trans youth under the age of 18 puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or gender-affirming surgeries. Doctors who provide this care to patients could be charged with a felony under the law.

Advocates warned that the bill posed health risks to trans youth and set a dangerous precedent leading to more anti-trans legislation across the US.

“I think it’s healthy for our society, I think it’s helpful for our party to have that kind of vigorous debate about an important issue. And, to me, this is about the future of our party,” Hutchinson said Sunday.

“Are we going to be a narrow party that expresses ourself in intolerant ways, or are we going to be a broad-based party that shows conservative principles, but also compassion in dealing with some of the most difficult issues that parents face, that individuals face?” he added.

Hutchinson said the legislation went “too far” and said he needed to “remind his wonderful Republican colleagues” that the GOP platform prioritizes a “limited role of government.”

Hutchinson also this year signed another piece of anti-trans legislation into law, prohibiting trans girls from playing on girls sports teams. Advocates said the bill targeted a problem that doesn’t actually exist, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette noted.

Republicans have introduced a wide range of bills targeting trans rights this year in 28 states, Insider previously reported. Bills range from legislation restricting which sports teams trans youth can play on to ones that regulate medical care for trans people.

“I did sign the protection for girls in sports, which says biological males cannot compete on a girls team,” Hutchinson said. “To me, that’s a fundamental way of making sure girls sports can prosper.”

“These are tough areas, tough areas,” he added. “And what we have to do is, we can debate them on conservative principles, but let’s show compassion and tolerance and understanding as we do that. And that’s the simple message that I think is important for our party.”

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The meeting with two trans women that might have helped convince the Arkansas governor to oppose the anti-trans bill

Trans rights
People take part in rally outside New York’s Stonewall Inn in 2017.

  • Arkansas has become the first state to block transition-related care for trans youth.
  • Gov. Hutchinson said he met with trans people before deciding to reject the bill, though lawmakers overrode his veto.
  • The state’s only openly trans elected official spoke to Insider about her meeting with the governor.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Shortly before Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill that would make Arkansas the first state to block transition-related care for trans youth, he sat down with two trans women to better understand its impact.

On Tuesday afternoon, the state legislature voted to override Hutchinson’s veto, paving the way for it to take effect if the law survives legal challenges. Still, the governor’s veto a day earlier came as a surprise to many LGBTQ advocates around the country, as Hutchinson had already signed two other anti-trans bills, one banning trans girls from girl’s scholastic sports, and the other a sweeping religious exemption for health care providers who can now turn away LGBTQ patients for non-emergencies.

An account of the meeting between the Republican governor, the state’s only openly trans elected official, and an 18-year-old trans women may shed some light on Hutchinson’s surprising opposition to the bill.

The meeting, on March 30, was expected to last 30 minutes, according to Evelyn Rios Stafford, a Justice of the Peace in Fayetteville, who is openly trans.

But the governor had so many questions that it ran 10 minutes long, she said.

“He had a lot of questions,” Rios Stafford told Insider. “I could tell that this was not an issue that he was super familiar with at all.”

A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to questions about the meeting, but Hutchinson has said that he met with trans people and healthcare providers before reaching his decision. The young trans woman who was also present was not immediately available to discuss it.

Rios Stafford said that, as she watched the governor’s press conference less than a week after they had sat across from one another, she heard him echo some of what had come up in their closed-door meeting.

“The bill is overbroad, extreme, and does not grandfather those who are under hormone treatment,” Hutchinson said during his press conference. “I want people in Arkansas and across the country that whether they’re transgender or otherwise, that they’re loved, they’re appreciated, they make part of our state, and we want to send the message of tolerance and diversity.”

The message meant a lot to Rios Stafford, who said she can’t remember a southern Republican governor ever saying that trans people are loved, important members of the state.

Arkansas’ bill, HB 1570, bans puberty blockers and other transition-related care for trans minors. But it is not just limited to harming trans kids, and introduces a host of further restrictions on care for trans adults. It bans state funds, such as Medicaid, from being used towards transition care for trans people of any age.

Studies have shown that puberty blockers help relieve dysphoria triggered by an adolescent’s puberty, and vastly improves mental health overall. The treatment is widely accepted within the medical community, with endorsements from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the Endocrine Society, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson

The March 30 meeting was set up by Nicole Clowney, a Democratic state Representative from Fayetteville, Rios Stafford said.

She said that while she was used to meetings with other elected officials being super policy-focused, she was a bit nervous to speak with the governor about an issue that was so personal to her. But she was encouraged that the governor asked specifically how the trans community has been feeling, given all of the hostility of this legislative session.

“He asked how the trans community is reacting to all the bills that the legislature is sending his way,” she said, and told the governor about the community’s anxiety. “Honestly, they’re worried,” she explained. “They don’t know what else is coming down the pipeline.”

Rios Stafford said she explained to the governor that the bill would make life unlivable for a lot of trans people in Arkansas, and that she had been hearing from a lot of folks who are planning to flee the state as soon as possible. “I think that pained him a little bit to hear that,” she said.

The young trans woman told her story of coming out and transitioning in her Arkansas high school, and how she worried the wave of bills passed by state lawmakers would signal a green light for cisgender kids to bully and alienate trans kids.

The governor brought up specific medical questions about the treatments given to trans kids to treat gender dysphoria, Rios Stafford was able to answer some of those questions, but said she deferred to medical experts on others.

At one point during the meeting, Rios Stafford tried to appeal to the governor’s political values as a libertarian and a conservative.

“I was like, ‘Governor, I thought Republicans were supposed to be the party of small government,'” she said, noting that the governor smiled at that comment. “A lot of these bills are reaching down into the classrooms between teachers and their students. They’re reaching down in between families and their doctors. They’re reaching in between coaches and their teams. This is big government.”

Rios Stafford said she emerged from the meeting cautiously optimistic, but prepared for the governor to sign the bill anyway.

“The fact that he asked how the trans community is reacting, at least shows that he acknowledges the existence of the trans community,” Rios Stafford said.

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Arkansas becomes first state to pass bill prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to trans youth

trans supreme court.JPG
  • Arkansas passed a bill prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to trans youth.
  • The Senate passed the bill Monday in a 28-7 vote. The House passed the bill earlier this month.
  • The legislation now goes to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk to be signed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arkansas became the first state to pass a bill prohibiting doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender youth following a vote in the state Senate on Monday.

HB 1570, the “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” prohibits trans youth from accessing health care and insurance coverage for gender-affirming care. The bill passed 28-7 in the state Senate. The state House passed the bill earlier this month.

The bill would prohibit doctors from offering gender confirming horomone treatment or surgery to trans youth. Doctors would also be unable to refer minors to other providers for treatment.

The legislation now goes to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk for signature. He has not publicly said whether he supports the legislation. The governor has five days, not including Sunday, to sign or veto the bill before it becomes law.

If signed, the bill would take effect this summer.

Opponents say if the legislation is enacted, it would be the first prohibition of its kind in the US. LGBTQ advocacy groups, child welfare organizations, and medical professionals have criticized the legislation.

Medical best practice guidelines from the Endocrine Society, Child Mind Institute, and American Psychological Association all recommend that states provide gender-affirming care for trans children. If Hutchinson signs the bill, Arkansas will became the first state to criminalize the vital health services.

Studies have shown children who are unable to access gender-affirming care experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than trans youth with supportive doctors and families. A 2020 study published in Pediatrics found the earlier transgender youth get care, the less likely they are to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Getting gender-affirming care before puberty can slow or stop some of the changes that are more difficult to reverse like voice deepening, hair growth, and fat distribution.

Arkansas’s HB1570 comes amid a surge of anti-trans bills being considered in state legislatures across the country this year. Insider previously reported that 28 states are voting on anti-trans legislation in 2021.

Arkansas has also proposed two bills that would prevent trans youth from participating in school sports: SB354 and SJR16

This story is breaking. Check back for updates.

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Arkansas governor’s new ‘medical conscience objections’ law could result in LGBTQ+ people being refused treatment, human rights group says

asa hutchinson arkansas governor
Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-AK) appears on “Meet the Press” in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. (

  • Gov. Hutchinson has signed a law that allows medics to refuse treatment because of moral objections.
  • It could lead to LGBTQ+ patients being discriminated against, a human rights group told AP.
  • Arkansas’s governor is also facing criticism for new legislation on transgender women in sport.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas signed in new legislation on Friday that allows medical professionals to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral objections, the Associated Press reported.

The new law says that doctors and healthcare institutions can object to participating in non-emergency treatments that violate their conscience, the news agency said.

It will come into effect in the late summer, according to AP.

Read more: Biden gets busy reversing Trump-era restrictions on gender and reproductive rights. His policies are even more progressive than past Democratic presidents.

The legislation is facing fierce opposition from human rights activists who say that LGBTQ+ individuals could be denied treatment.

Critics have said that it could lead to doctors refusing to treat transgender patients or provide grief counseling for same-sex couples, AP said. It could also lead to women being denied prescriptions for birth control, according to the news agency.

“There is no sugarcoating this: this bill is another brazen attempt to make it easier to discriminate against people and deny Arkansans the health care services they need,” ACLU Arkansas’s executive director Holly Dickinson said in a statement to AP.

Hutchinson is insisting that the legislation will not breach federal discrimination laws.

“I support this right of conscience so long as emergency care is exempted and conscience objection cannot be used to deny general health service to any class of people,” the governor said in a statement. “Most importantly, the federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender, and national origin continue to apply to the delivery of health care services.”

Hutchinson is also facing backlash for signing a law on Thursday that would ban transgender women and girls from competing in sports consistent with their gender identity.

Alphonso David, the president of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, criticized the legislation in a statement.

“Governor Hutchinson’s eagerness to sign this discriminatory legislation is an affront not just to the transgender kids it is bound to hurt but to all Arkansans who will be impacted by its consequences,” David wrote.

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson calls COVID-19 vaccine skepticism among Trump supporters ‘a natural resistance to government’

Asa Hutchinson
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Arkansas).

  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson said GOP vaccine skepticism is rooted in “a natural resistance to government.”
  • A Yahoo News/YouGov poll revealed that 50% of Trump voters said they would “never” get the vaccine.
  • Hutchinson is set to lift the mask mandate in Arkansas at the end of March.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas on Sunday said that the reluctance of many supporters of former President Donald Trump to receive COVID-19 vaccination shots is rooted in “a natural resistance to government,” a sentiment he described as “worrisome.”

During an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Hutchinson remarked at the conservative nature of his state’s electorate when host Dana Bash informed him of results from a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll which revealed that a full 50 percent of Trump voters indicated that they would “never” get the vaccine.

“I’ve thought a lot about that and I think it’s a natural resistance to government and skepticism of it,” he said. “But you look at the breadth of support here in Arkansas for President Trump, and you have rural voters, you have minority voters, and their hesitancy is worrisome, not just here but all across the country.”

He added: “I expect, as a country, we’ll get the 50 percent vaccination rate of the population, but we’re going to have a harder time getting from 50 percent to 70 percent, and it’s about overcoming the skepticism.”

Read more: Trump inner circle tightens grip on the GOP’s most valued prize – the former president’s endorsement – sparking a new brawl among top MAGA lieutenants

While former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter all participated in a recent series of public service announcements touting the vaccine, Trump did not to participate.

When asked if Trump should be more vocal about the merits of the vaccine, which the former president and former first lady Melania Trump received shortly before leaving the White House in January, Hutchinson said that messages of support from all leaders would be beneficial.

“Well, I’m delighted that he did get the vaccine [and] promoted that,” Hutchinson said. “I don’t know the story behind as to why he wasn’t in the PSA with the other presidents. Any message is helpful and I think we have to have our leaders, we have to have sports figures, we have to have different representatives of our community, including our political leaders, say [the] vaccine is important.”

Despite Hutchinson reflecting on the severity of the coronavirus, which has killed over 5,500 Arkansans and infected over 328,000 state residents, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, he said that he planned to lift the mask mandate at the end of March.

“We’re a year into this and we know so much more today than we did a year ago,” he said. “We had to educate people to understand the importance of the mask, and I expect even though we take the mask mandate away that people will continue to use the mask when you cannot socially distance. Common sense is going to replace mandates and I think that’s where we are right now.”

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Arkansas GOP governor said the near-total ban on abortion he signed is designed to land before the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade

Asa Hutchinson
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks at a news conference at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, August 4, 2015.

  • Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson said his anti-abortion law is designed to be argued before the Supreme Court.
  • The law is a near-total ban on abortion, with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
  • “I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” he told CNN.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, on Sunday said the near-total ban on abortion he signed into law earlier in March was designed to land before the Supreme Court.

Hutchinson made the comments Sunday during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union”

“It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash. “And I did prefer a rape and incest exception. I didn’t get a vote on that. And so I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade. That was the intent of it.”

He said “the whole design” of the law was to get the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Hutchinson signed the bill into law on March 9, as The Associated Press reported, even though he at the time had expressed concerns over its lack of exceptions for rape or incest. Under the law, abortion is only permissible in cases where a mother’s life is in danger.

The bill is just one example of Republican-backed challenges to abortion that have appeared in state legislatures across the US this year.

“I think there’s a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case, but we will see,” Hutchinson said Sunday. “And, again, I would prefer – it’s been my historic position that the three exceptions would be rape, incest, and the life of the mother.

“But this is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade,” he continued. “And that’s the intent of the legislation.”

As the Associated Press noted when the bill was signed earlier this month, it won’t go into effect until 90 after the date it was signed into law, meaning it can’t be enforced until this summer at the earliest. Groups centered on protecting access to abortion have said they planned to issue legal challenges to the legislation, according to the report.

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An Arkansas lawmaker who is ditching the GOP said Trump’s attempt to ‘overturn the results of a fair and free election’ was the ‘final straw’

Jim Hendren
FILE: Sen. Jim Hendren speaks during a meeting of the Senate Education Committee at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock in 2015.

  • An Arkansas state senator this week announced he was leaving the GOP.
  • State Sen. Jim Hendren said he left the party after Trump incited the riot at the US Capitol.
  • Hendren accused GOP of a failure of leadership and said party leaders took a “backseat” approach.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A longtime Arkansas state lawmaker, with deep familial connections to the GOP, announced this week that he was leaving the Republican Party, citing the growing partisan divide and the Republican Party’s refusal to rein in former President Donald Trump. 

State Sen. Jim Hendren announced he was leaving the Republican Party and switching his affiliation to Independent in a nine-minute YouTube video posted Thursday. In the video, Hendren said political parties had enabled and even rewarded the growing partisan divide and said he’d grown “deeply concerned” over the state of US politics.

“There’s a real danger that the Republican Party is going to be one that you can’t win a primary without being a Trump supporter, and you can’t win a general by being a Trump supporter,” Hendren told CNN in an interview Friday. “What would have happened, then, is we’ve taken a party that was about principle and about conservative government to one that is about one man and a personality. And that is a race that doesn’t end well for the GOP.”

In the Thursday video, Hendren said his dissatisfaction with the Republican Party’s response to Trump has been years-long, beginning with the ex-president’s first campaign for the White House. He said Thursday he and his conservative beliefs had remained constant while the Republican Party had changed.

“I watched the former President actively fan the flame of racist rhetoric, make fun of those with disabilities, bully his enemies, and talk about women in ways that would never be tolerated in my home or business,” he said. “After he did this from the highest office in the land, I realized that my daughters and my granddaughters were hearing it too. And I worried about the example this set for my sons and grandsons.”

As CNN reported, Hendren, an Arkansas native, has served as a state lawmaker in the state since 1995. From 1995 to 2012, Hendren served in the state House of Representatives before moving to the state Senate in 2013. For four years, Hendren was the state Senate minority leader. He plans to remain in the Senate as an Independent, he said.

“I’ve watched a systemic change at the core of our politics that emboldens our worst impulses, the most extreme thinking, disables policymaking, and hurts all of us,” Hendren, a former Air Force fighter pilot, said. “It would be easy to blame this on one person or on a few but sadly it runs more deeply and cuts more broadly than that.”

Hendren said that he witnessed GOP leadership “too often taking a backseat rather than leading.”

Hendren pointed toward events in Trump’s final months in office as the moments that pushed him out of the GOP, and said that Trump’s incitement of the deadly riot at the US Capitol on January 6 was the “final straw.” 

“For months, I watched as members of my own party and our former president tried to overturn the results of a fair and free election, the very hallmark of our democracy, with lies, with false statements, conspiracy theories, and attempts to subvert the Constitution,” he said. 

Hendren is the nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison, a Republican, and the son of former state lawmaker Kim Hendren, also a Republican, CNN reported. Hendren told CNN he hadn’t ruled out a run for governor next year when his uncle finishes his second and final term in office.

Hendren said he’s founded an organization called Common Ground Arkansas to help create a “place for people who are politically homeless,” he said.

Hendren’s resignation from the GOP comes amid a continued split in the Republican Party. Members of the GOP who have condemned Trump or voted in favor of his impeachment in the House and removal in the Senate have been censured or otherwise criticized by members of their own party for abandoning the former president.

The Senate last week failed to convict Trump for inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol that left five people dead

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s former press secretary, is running for governor of Arkansas

sarah huckabee sanders
Press briefing by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders (aka Sarah Huckabee Sanders) in the White House Press Briefing Room on July 23, 2018.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former press secretary for President Donald Trump, is running for governor of Arkansas, according to multiple reports.

Sanders served as the White House press secretary from 2017 to 2019. Since leaving the administration she has remained a staunch defender of Trump.

Sanders, 38, is also the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and her run for the office has been widely expected.

She plans to make a video announcement of her candidacy on Monday, The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey first reported.

Read more: Trump and the GOP may be headed for an expensive divorce fight over donor and voter data

A campaign official also confirmed to the Associated Press that Sanders is entering the race.

Arkansas is a solidly red state and was easily won by Trump in the 2020 election. The current governor is Republican Asa Hutchinson, who has been in office since 2015 and cannot run again due to term limits.

The election is scheduled to take place on November 8, 2022.

The other Republican candidates include Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

But Dawsey reported Sanders is Trump’s candidate of choice, and that she is leading in early polls.

During her time has press secretary, Sanders was a controversial figure, often sparring with reporters and at times criticized for spreading false information in defense of the president.

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