William Asa Hutchinson II (/ˈsə/, AY-sə; born December 3, 1950) is an American attorney, businessman, and politician who is the 46th and current governor of Arkansas. A member of the Republican Party, he previously was the U.S. Attorney for the Fort Smith-based Western District of Arkansas (1982–1985), U.S. Representative for Arkansas’s 3rd congressional district (1997–2001), Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (2001–2003) and the first Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security at the United States Department of Homeland Security (2003–2005).

In 2006, Hutchinson was the Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas, but was defeated by Democratic nominee Mike Beebe, the outgoing state attorney general. In 2014, Hutchinson was again the Republican nominee for the governorship, this time winning the election by defeating Democratic U.S. Representative Mike Ross. He was reelected in 2018 with nearly two-thirds of the vote. Hutchinson is barred by term limits from seeking candidacy for Arkansas governor in 2022 and beyond.

From 2020 to 2021 Hutchinson served as vice chair of the National Governors Association, then succeeded Democratic Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York as chair of the organization for 2021–2022.

Early life and legal career

Hutchinson was born in Bentonville, Arkansas, the son of Coral Virginia (Mount) Hutchinson (1912–1998) and John Malcolm Hutchinson Sr. (1907–1991).[3] He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bob Jones University in South Carolina in 1972, and received his J.D. from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1975. He practiced law in Fort Smith for 21 years and handled more than 100 jury trials.

In 1982, Hutchinson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as U.S. Attorney for the United States Western District of Arkansas. At the age of thirty-one, Hutchinson was the youngest U.S. Attorney in the nation. He made national headlines after successfully prosecuting The Covenant, The Sword, and The Arm of the Lord (CSA), a white supremacist organization founded by polygamist James Ellison. The CSA forced a three-day armed stand-off with local, state and federal law enforcement. As U.S. Attorney, Hutchinson put on a flak jacket and personally negotiated a peaceful conclusion to the stand-off.[4]

Business career

In early 2005, Hutchinson founded a consulting firm, Hutchinson Group, LLC, with partners Betty Guhman and Kirk Tompkins, in Little Rock, and accepted a contract for a one-year position with Venable LLP in Washington, D.C., as the chair of its Homeland Security practice. Hutchinson ended his contract with Venable LLP in March 2006 to focus on his gubernatorial campaign and his consulting firm in Little Rock. In January 2007, Hutchinson rejoined Venable.[5]

In June 2006, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Hutchinson’s $2,800 investment in Fortress America Acquisition Corporation, a company that Hutchinson was advising, was worth over a million dollars after the company’s initial public offering. The news story noted that Hutchinson was unable to touch his stock for another two years. The six founding shareholders in Fortress America, in addition to Hutchinson, included former U.S. Representative Tom McMillen of Maryland, former U.S. Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and a private-equity firm that had former CIA Director James Woolsey among its partners.

Two months earlier, on May 4, 2006, Hutchinson had filed a financial disclosure form, which he was required to submit as candidate for governor. The form did not list his 200,000 shares in Fortress America, which were trading at about $5 per share. “Just totally an oversight,” Hutchinson said when questioned by the media in June.[6] He filed an amended report the next day to correct the error.[7]

Political career

Early efforts

In 1986, Hutchinson ran against incumbent Democratic Senator and former Governor Dale Bumpers.[8] It was a nationally Democratic year, and Hutchinson fared worse than Bumpers’ previous Senate challenger, Little Rock investment banker William P. “Bill” Clark, in the 1980 election.

In 1990, Hutchinson ran against Winston Bryant for Attorney General of Arkansas; he lost in a tight race. After losing the 1990 race, Hutchinson became the co-chairman, with Sheffield Nelson, of the Arkansas Republican Party, a position he held for five years. Hutchinson considered a rematch with Bumpers in 1992 before he deferred to Mike Huckabee, who lost to Bumpers.

U.S. House of Representatives

Asa Hutchinson’s 105th Congress portrait

In 1992 Hutchinson’s brother, Tim, was elected to Congress in Arkansas’s third congressional district, when veteran Republican U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt retired. In 1996, when his brother decided not to run for a third term in the House in order to seek the open Senate seat caused by the retirement of Democrat David Pryor, Hutchinson ran for the seat and won.

Hutchinson, who had at first decided to run for an open seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives from Sebastian County, defeated Ann Henry, a long-time friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, in November 1996. Although Henry outspent Hutchinson during the campaign, the district’s heavy Republican tilt and his brother Tim’s presence atop the ballot helped Asa win with 55 percent of the vote—to date, the last remotely competitive race in the Third District. His brother Tim also won his campaign for the U.S. Senate and served for one term, losing his reelection bid in 2002.

In 1998, Hutchinson was reelected to the House with far less difficulty, taking 80 percent of the vote against an underfunded Democratic challenger. He was re-elected unopposed in November 2000.

In office, Hutchinson compiled a voting record as conservative as that of his brother. He led efforts to crack down on illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine. Hutchinson also served as one of the managers (prosecutors) during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1998. In 1999, Hutchinson was involved in the effort to reform campaign finance laws and offered an alternative proposal to the bill by Christopher Shays and Marty Meehan, which he opposed on the grounds that it “went too far” because it attempted to ban television commercials by legal third-party organizations. Hutchinson did support the bill by John McCain and Russ Feingold in the Senate.[9]

Hutchinson attempted, unsuccessfully, to modify the civil asset forfeiture reform bill that sought to prevent police abuse of its power to seize private property on mere suspicion of being linked to any criminal investigation. His amendment, allegedly, would have empowered the police to continue profiting from drug money.[10]

Drug Enforcement Administration

Hutchinson as Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security

Hutchinson and U.S. Representative Frank Wolf tour a DEA drug testing facility in Northern Virginia in 2001

In 2001, at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, Hutchinson was appointed Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). He was confirmed with 98–1 in the Senate vote.[11]

Department of Homeland Security

After the September 11 attacks, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). President George W. Bush tapped Hutchinson to lead the Border and Transportation Security Directorate, a division of the DHS. Hutchinson was confirmed by unanimous consent by the Senate on January 23, 2003.[12] Hutchinson left office as Undersecretary on March 1, 2005.[13]


Hutchinson agreed to serve on The Constitution Project’s Guantanamo Task Force in December 2010.[14][15][16] He told the Associated Press he agreed to join the task force because he believed it was “something important for our national security and our war on terrorism.”

In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association (NRA) assembled a task force of experts in homeland security, law enforcement training, and school safety to review school security standards in select areas of the country. The stated goal of the task force was to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the safety of children in schools and to prevent such shootings in the future. Hutchinson served as the leader of the task force. On April 2, 2013, Hutchinson presented the National School Shield plan during a news conference at the National Press Club.[17][18]

Governor of Arkansas

2006 election

Hutchinson campaigning for governor in 2006

Shortly after his return to Arkansas, Hutchinson announced his intention to run for governor in 2006. Initially, Hutchinson was to face three-term Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Paul Rockefeller, who was favored in most pre-election polls, in the Republican primary. However, Rockefeller’s withdrawal and death from a blood disorder in early 2006 led to Hutchinson winning the primary. He was defeated in the general election by the Democratic candidate, then-Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe.[19]

2014 election

Hutchinson was the Republican nominee for governor of Arkansas in 2014. He was supported by House Speaker Davy Carter.[20] On November 4, 2014, after defeating Tea Party-backed Curtis Coleman in the Republican Primary, he defeated Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross in the general election with 55 percent of the vote, the best showing for a Republican in an open-seat gubernatorial race since the end of Reconstruction. His victory also gave the GOP complete control of state government for the first time since the end of Reconstruction.

2018 election

Hutchinson won re-election on November 6, 2018, in a landslide, taking over 65 percent of the vote and carrying all but eight counties. In a bad year for the GOP nationally, Hutchinson garnered the largest margin of victory for a Republican candidate in Arkansas’ history.


Hutchinson greeting Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in 2017

Hutchinson assumed office as governor on January 13, 2015.

Hutchinson meeting with President Donald Trump and Laura Kelly in 2020

Hutchinson meeting with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and a bipartisan group of governors and mayors in 2021

On November 16, 2015, Hutchinson and several other Republican governors said that they would block all Syrian refugees from entering the state in response to the November 2015 Paris attacks.[21]

Under Hutchinson, the state of Arkansas resumed executions in 2017 after having executed no prisoners since 2005.[22][23][24] In 2021, DNA testing on the murder weapon and a bloody shirt at the scene of the crime did not match Ledell Lee, who was convicted and executed for murder.[25] Hutchinson defended the execution of Lee, saying “the DNA findings released today do not present any conclusive evidence to undermine [Lee’s guilty verdict].”[25]

As governor, Hutchinson implemented work requirements for Medicaid enrollees. As a result, by December 2018, almost 17,000 Arkansans had lost their Medicaid health insurance, with reapplication available in the new calendar year.[26]

In February 2019, Hutchinson signed a bill into law that would criminalize abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned.[27] On March 9, 2021, he signed SB6, a near-total abortion bill, into state law. He said that the bill was intended “to set the stage for the Supreme Court overturning current case law. I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.”[28]

In 2015, Hutchinson signed into law legislation that would prohibit localities from extending civil rights protections to LGBT individuals.[29] At the time, Arkansas was among states that allowed discrimination in the workplace, housing and business on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.[30] In March 2021, Hutchinson signed into law legislation that would allow doctors to refuse non-emergency medical treatment to LGBT individuals based on moral objection.[31] In April 2021, he vetoed a bill that would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming medication or surgery,[32] calling it “a vast government overreach”,[33] though the state legislature later overrode this veto.[34]

In August 2021, Hutchinson signed bills into law that prohibited businesses and government facilities from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for staff and customers to enter facilities.[35] While Arkansas was experiencing a wave of COVID-19 cases, he also signed a bill into law that prohibited state and local officials from enacting mask mandates.[36] He later said that he regretted doing so.[36]


Asa Hutchinson’s older brother, Tim, preceded him as U.S. Representative from Arkansas’s 3rd congressional district and served one term as a United States Senator from Arkansas from 1997 to 2003, being defeated for a second term by then-Arkansas Attorney General Mark Pryor, a Democrat, in 2002. Asa and Tim Hutchinson are both graduates of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina with Asa, Class of 1972. His identical twin nephews, Jeremy and Timothy Chad Hutchinson, sons of Tim Hutchinson, were the first twins to serve alongside each other in the Arkansas General Assembly, both as members of the House of Representatives. Hutchinson is the brother-in-law of former Arkansas state Senator who in 1958 married Hutchinson’s sister, Marylea Hutchinson. Arkansas District 2 State Senator Jim Hendren of Sulphur Springs is Hutchinson’s nephew.[37] Hutchinson’s son, Asa Hutchinson III has been arrested multiple times for driving offenses to include arrests in 2019, 2018 and 2016 for DWI and an arrest for possession of a controlled substance at a music festival in 2016.[38]

Electoral history

Arkansas gubernatorial election, 2006[39]
DemocraticMike Beebe 430,765 55.61% +8.65%
RepublicanAsa Hutchinson315,04040.67%-12.35%
IndependentRod Bryan15,7672.04%
GreenJim Lendall12,7741.65%
Democratic gain from RepublicanSwing
2014 Arkansas Republican gubernatorial primary results[40]
Republican Asa Hutchinson 130,752 72.95
RepublicanCurtis Coleman48,47327.05
Total votes179,225 100
2014 Arkansas gubernatorial election[41]
RepublicanAsa Hutchinson 470,429 55.44% +21.81%
DemocraticMike Ross352,11541.49%-22.93%
LibertarianFrank Gilbert16,3191.92%N/A
GreenJosh Drake9,7291.15%-0.71%
Total votes848,592 100.0% N/A
Republican gain from Democratic
2018 Arkansas Republican gubernatorial primary results
Republican Asa Hutchinson (incumbent) 145,251 69.7
RepublicanJan Morgan63,00930.3
Total votes208,260 100.0
2018 Arkansas gubernatorial election
RepublicanAsa Hutchinson (incumbent) 582,406 65.33% +9.89%
DemocraticJared Henderson283,21831.77%-9.72%
LibertarianMark West25,8852.90%+0.98%
Total votes891,509 100.0% N/A
Republican hold

See also


  1. ^ “Beardsworth Heads DHS Transport”. www.joc.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Edmonds, Revis (July 18, 2019). “Susan Burrell Hitchinson”. Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  3. ^ Hutchinson, Frederick Mcalpine (1947). The Hutchinson family of Laurens County, South Carolina, and descendants. google.ca. ISBN 9780608320403. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Selyukh, Alina (December 21, 2012). “U.S. gun lobby ally to lead NRA plan for armed guards at schools”. Reuters. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  5. ^ “Asa Hutchinson, Former Arkansas Congressman and DHS Under Secretary, Returns to Venable” (Press release). Venable. January 5, 2007. Archived from the original on October 17, 2007.
  6. ^ Minton, Mark (June 7, 2006). “Hutchinson’s $2,800 outlay, ‘sweat’ pay off”. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Northwest Arkansas ed.). Archived from the original on June 24, 2006.
  7. ^ Blomeley, Seth; Wickline, Michael R. (May 6, 2006). “State candidates detail ’05 income, gifts in reports”. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Northwest Arkansas ed.). Archived from the original on September 27, 2007.
  8. ^ Eugene Scott (January 2, 2016). “Dale Bumpers dead: Former U.S. senator and Arkansas governor was 90”. CNN. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Tapper, Jake (October 12, 1999). “The conversion of Asa Hutchinson”. Salon. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2013.[better source needed]
  10. ^ NDSN (Summer 1999). “US House Approves Civil Forfeiture Reform Bill”. National Drug Strategy Network. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  11. ^ “The Oak Ridger Online – Opinion – David Broder: A needed debate on U…” June 29, 2007. Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  12. ^ United States Congress, Committee on Appropriations (2004). 108-2 Hearings: Department of Homeland Security Appropriations for 2005, Part 4, March 18, 2004. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 232.
  13. ^ “Who’s at home for DHS — GCN”. GCN. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  14. ^ “Task Force members” (PDF). The Constitution Project. December 17, 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  15. ^ “Task Force on Detainee Treatment Launched”. The Constitution Project. December 17, 2010. Archived from the original on December 15, 2010.
  16. ^ “Think tank plans study of how US treats detainees”. Wall Street Journal. December 17, 2010. Archived from the original on December 19, 2010. Former FBI Director William Sessions, former Arkansas U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a retired Army general and a retired appeals court judge in Washington are among 11 people selected for a task force that will meet for the first time in early January, said Virginia Sloan, a lawyer and president of The Constitution Project.
  17. ^ NRA “school safety” plan calls for trained, armed school staff. CBS News. Published: April 2, 2013.
  18. ^ TITLE. Associated Press (via Orange County Register). Published: April 2, 2013.
  19. ^ Hardy, Benjamin (January 15, 2015). “Arkansan of the Year: Asa Hutchinson”. Arkansas Times. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  20. ^ Brantley, Max (May 17, 2013). “Davy Carter won’t make race for governor”. Arkansas Times. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  21. ^ Bosman, Julie; Seelye, Katharine Q.; Hauser, Christine (November 16, 2015). “Multiple Republican Governors Say They Oppose the Entry of Syrian Refugees”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  22. ^ “Arkansas’ governor opens up about his rapid execution schedule”. NBC News. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  23. ^ “Arkansas’ governor is ‘fighting back’ to execute five men in 10 days. But why?”. the Guardian. April 18, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  24. ^ Dwyer, Colin (April 14, 2017). “Federal Court Blocks 7 Executions Set For 11-Day Span In Arkansas”. NPR. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  25. ^ a b “Advocates report new DNA evidence; kin of executed man behind findings”. Arkansas Online. May 1, 2021. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  26. ^ Hardy, Benjamin (December 17, 2018). “Update: Work requirement ends Medicaid coverage for 4,600 more Arkansans in December”. Arkansas Times. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  27. ^ Gstalter, Morgan (February 19, 2019). “Arkansas governor signs ‘trigger’ abortion ban bill”. The Hill. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  28. ^ “Gov. Hutchinson signs near-total abortion bill, SB6”. KSLA. March 9, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  29. ^ Trager, Kevin; Eady, Alyse (April 2, 2015). “Arkansas governor signs new ‘religious freedom’ bill”. USA TODAY. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  30. ^ “Arkansas’s real LGBT problem: discrimination is legal even without a religious freedom law”. www.vox.com. April 2015. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  31. ^ DeMillo, Andrew (March 26, 2021). “Arkansas governor signs bill allowing medical workers to refuse treatment to LGBTQ people”. PBS Newshour. AP News.
  32. ^ Astor, Maggie (April 5, 2021). “Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, vetoed an anti-transgender bill”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  33. ^ Yurcaba, Jo. “Arkansas governor vetoes ban on gender-affirming care for trans minors”. NBC News. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  34. ^ Bryan, Max. “Arkansas lawmakers ban youth transgender treatment and surgeries, overriding governor’s veto”. USA TODAY. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  35. ^ “Arkansas governor signs bills banning vaccine requirements”. Associated Press. 2021. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  36. ^ a b “Gov. Hutchinson wishes he didn’t sign mask mandate ban into law”. thv11.com. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  37. ^ “Hendren, Jim Paul”. ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  38. ^ “Gov. Hutchinson’s Son Arrested For DUI”. KFSM-TV. May 19, 2019. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  39. ^ “Voices of Arkansas: A Report on Voting Trends in the Natural State” (PDF). Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  40. ^ “2014 Arkansas Preferential Primary Elections and Nonpartisan Election May 20, 2014”. Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  41. ^ “November 4, 2014 General election and nonpartisan runoff election Official results”. Arkansas Secretary of State. Retrieved November 23, 2014.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by

Larry McCord
United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas
Succeeded by

Michael Fitzhugh
Party political offices
Preceded by

Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
(Class 3)

Succeeded by

Preceded by

Ken Coon
Chair of the Arkansas Republican Party
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Mike Huckabee
Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by

Jim Keet
Preceded by

Republican nominee for Governor of Arkansas
2014, 2018
Most recent
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas’s 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by

Political offices
Preceded by

Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Position established
Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Border and Transportation Security
Succeeded by

Randy Beardsworth
Preceded by

Governor of Arkansas
Preceded by

Chair of the National Governors Association
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

as Vice President

Order of precedence of the United States
Within Arkansas
Succeeded by

Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by

Preceded by

as Governor of Missouri

Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Arkansas
Succeeded by

as Governor of Michigan