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Tim Hutchinson represented the State of Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 1997 and the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2003.
Young Timothy (Tim) Hutchinson was born on August 11, 1949, in Bentonville (Benton County) to John Malcolm Hutchinson Sr. and Coral Hutchinson; he has five siblings. His father was a grocer, farmer, and eventually mayor of Sulphur Springs (Benton County). Hutchinson attended public schools in Bentonville and Gravette (Benton County). He graduated with a BA from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and received an MA in political science from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1990.
Hutchinson married his first wife, Donna Jean King, in 1970; they had three children.
Before entering politics, Hutchinson served in several capacities, such as a history professor at John Brown University in Siloam Springs (Benton County), Baptist pastor, and co-owner (with his younger brother, Asa Hutchinson) of Christian-format radio station KBCV in Bentonville, which became the country-format station KKEG.
In 1985, Hutchinson was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives as a Republican and served until 1992. In 1992, he ran for the Republican Party nomination for the Third Congressional District seat, which had been held by the retiring incumbent, John Paul Hammerschmidt, for twenty-six years. Hutchinson defeated Richard (Dick) Barclay in the Republican primary and went on to easily win the seat in 1992. Hutchinson served in the U.S. House of Representatives until 1997.
While in the House, Hutchinson served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He was the original sponsor of child tax credit legislation, a key figure in reauthorizing the 1996 welfare reform law, and the chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, which has jurisdiction over one of the largest hospital and healthcare delivery systems in the nation.
In 1996, Hutchinson became the Arkansas Republican Party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate seat, which was being vacated by former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator David Pryor, after the party’s first nominee, Lieutenant Governor Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race to succeed Governor Jim Guy Tucker. Tucker had resigned his office after being convicted on charges of mail fraud. Hutchinson went on to defeat the Democratic candidate, former lieutenant governor and attorney general Winston Bryant, in the general election, garnering fifty-three percent of the vote. Many considered Hutchinson’s win an upset, especially since native son Bill Clinton carried Arkansas by seventeen points in the presidential race over Republican candidate Bob Dole.
During his time in the Senate, Hutchinson served on the Aging Committee; Armed Services Committee; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. While serving on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, he helped shape the No Child Left Behind legislation and took a leading role in the passage of Education Savings Accounts.
In July 1999, allegations of a “growing relationship” between Hutchinson and a member of his staff, Randi Fredholm, were made by a former campaign and congressional aide of Hutchinson, Sam Sellers, in the short-lived conservative magazine Arkansas Review. Fredholm had served on Hutchinson’s staff as his legislative director during his service in the U.S. House of Representatives and as Hutchinson’s state director during the early part of his term in the U.S. Senate. Hutchinson, who denied any impropriety, ultimately filed for divorce from his wife and went on to marry Fredholm in 2000.
In 2002, Hutchinson faced Arkansas’s attorney general, Mark Pryor, in his bid for reelection to the Senate. Pryor, the Democratic nominee, was the son of former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator David Pryor. Pryor refused to make Hutchinson’s alleged impropriety and divorce an issue, but the allegations of marital infidelity for the ordained Baptist minister and conservative candidate seemed to hurt Hutchinson’s standing with the Arkansas electorate. Hutchinson was defeated by Pryor, taking only forty-six percent of the vote. He was the only Republican U.S. senator to be defeated for reelection that year.
After leaving the Senate in January 2003, Hutchinson became a senior advisor at the law firm Dickstein Shapiro in Washington DC, where Hutchinson’s wife had served as a staff attorney since September 2001. The couple lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
For additional information: Parker, Suzi. “Shootout among Arkansas Republicans.” Salon.com. July 16, 1999. http://www.salon.com/1999/07/16/hutchinson/ (accessed June 3, 2014).
Tim Hutchinson Papers (Unprocessed). Special Collections. Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas.
“Timothy Hutchinson.” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=h001015 (accessed June 3, 2014).
Darrell Wayne Brown Sherwood, Arkansas
Last Updated 8/28/2015
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