Ross, Hutchinson take aim at each other in Governor’s debate

story by Roby Brock, a TCW content partner and owner of Talk Business & Politics

With four gubernatorial candidates on stage at a Hot Springs debate held by the Arkansas Press Association, Mike Ross and Asa Hutchinson took plenty of shots at each other.

Joshua Drake (G), Frank Gilbert (L), Asa Hutchinson (R), and Mike Ross (D) fielded questions on same-sex marriage, the Private Option, prison overcrowding, the lottery, and environmental concerns.

Ross, the Democratic nominee, came out quickly on the attack, using the very first question asked about his position on same-sex marriage to challenge Hutchinson’s positions on the minimum wage, tax reform, and health care.

While he shared the same position of opposing same-sex marriage, Ross said Hutchinson’s tax cut plan leaves out relief for those making less than $20,000 annually. He also said that Hutchinson opposed raising the state minimum wage.

Hutchinson countered that his tax plan offered plenty of relief for low-income Arkansans, but more importantly, he said middle-income taxpayers deserved more help.  He also said he was an advocate for raising the minimum wage, just not through the ballot process.

A measure to raise the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour over the next three years is likely to qualify for the November ballot. Ross supports the initiative, while Hutchinson said he wants the state legislature to control changes to the wage law. Hutchinson also said that he supported raising the state minimum wage to match the federal minimum wage.

The two major party candidates exchanged volleys on the Private Option, Arkansas’ bipartisan Medicaid expansion crafted to offer health insurance to low income workers.
While noting it has been good for rural hospitals, Hutchinson repeated his previous concerns about monitoring the cost impact to the state and said he wanted to make sure the insurance was reaching the right citizens.

He also took after Mike Ross’ record surrounding the federal Affordable Care Act, which led to the state Private Option’s creation.

“When you look at Mike Ross on the Affordable Care Act, he finds himself on both sides of an issue,” Hutchinson said. “We have a candidate here who is on both sides of an issue.”

Ross defended his votes in Congress, noting that he opposed the final Obamacare measure that became law and voted to repeal it. He said the Private Option Medicaid expansion was a good part of health care reform.


“We’re giving it (the Private Option) to the right people – it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “As governor, I’ll protect the funding for the Medicaid Private Option.”

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Blah Blah Blah

Isn't it interesting to hear all these people running for office talking about how they are going to spend OUR MONEY? My take on the situation is that the Democrats have been in charge in the Governors Office long enough and its time for a change to a Republican or Tea Party Governor.


We turned both houses of our Ar legislature red in the last election for the first time since Reconstrution, and it's been a catastrophe. I've both our local republican sentors and reps and asked for the reasons on certain votes and they all said they didn't read the bills they just voted blindly with the repulicans. ie both abortion bills, not saying I'm pro-choice or pro-life but to not read the bill is not doing they job. Aslo I case you dont' remember before Mike Bebee was Miek Huckabee for 8 years. So no, the governorship has not always been in the Dem's hand.


But the house and senate has been in the hands of the dems all that time. It is time to let the repubs see what they can do. Ross just isn't right for the job.

Just look at the GoP

See what they can do? Asa Hutchinson (the DEA head under Bush) nor any sitting southern GoP governor is fit to water the dog. The Democrats have not done an excellent job, but given the economic climate created by a vastly Republican policy national recession, I think the Dems have done a reasonable job. The recovery has gone fairly well here in AR - in spite of the GoP wasting time and money pretending they are "pro-life" when they are really just pro-birth. Asa Hitchinson's track record on science denial and supporting the ongoing imprisonment of the lEgest population on earth is disgusting. Just his DEA track record alone demonstrates he wants two America's. One for wealthy folks and one for folks who are trapped in the disgustingly biased for-profit prison system. Ross is clearly the least offensive candidate - sadly that is what elections boil down to nowadays.

2 years

We've given the GOP's 2 year in the Ar legislature and that is 2 years too long. They have passed a ton of defunct laws (the pro-life ones), that will all be overturned the minute they are challenged. Guess who'll be paying for that. Furthermore, I'm not for full gun control, do we really need a law passed that allows us to bring guns to church. That's the last thing I want to think about or see while I'm praying.

6 years

You have had 6 years of B.O. and do you still believe "you can keep your health care plan if you like it and you can keep your doctor if you like him"? Do you still believe our borders are secure and the world in in better shape than 6 years ago? The republicans and tea party will kick most democrats out of office next election because most Americans are just plain tired of being lead down the path of broken promises by the head democrat and his followers.

Tea Party, Really?

Unfortunatly I agree the Democrats will lose a few seats in 2014. I am just hoping we can keep the Senate by a seat or to the House is not going to change. However, the seats that are won will be won the the Republicans not the tea party. The tea partyis fracturing and destroying the Republican party. Cotton is the one tea partier that has a chance, and I hope the voters in Arkansas see him for what he really is. Ask what he acutally has registed in Arkansa. Nothing except a car-Now who is he supposed to be representing?????


So your argument is that to be qualified to run for office, one must own real property. And you are a Democrat? You must be one of those rich Democrats, like Hillary. By the way, Cotton was born and raised in Arkansas. He fought for his country voluntarily. I'd say he has earned the right to run for the Senate, regardless of whether or not he has anything "registed".

Pryor Really

Bet Pryor won't keep his health care plan and also suspect that he won't be invited for tea in Cotton's new Senate Office.