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A veteran of state government, Mickey Dale “Mike” Beebe was inaugurated as Arkansas’s forty-fifth governor on January 9, 2007.
Mike Beebe was born in Amagon (Jackson County) on December 28, 1946. During his youth, Beebe lived in several different states before returning to Arkansas. In 1964, he graduated from Newport High School. Beebe, who never knew his biological father, was raised by his working mother, a waitress; her life became a centerpiece in his populist campaign for governor in 2006.
After graduation from high school, Beebe earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arkansas State University (ASU) in 1968. He then went on to earn a law degree at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1972. Upon admission to the bar, Beebe began practicing law at the Lightle, Tedder, and Hannah law firm (now Lightle, Beebe, Raney, Bell and Simpson) in Searcy (White County). In 1982, Beebe was named the state’s outstanding trial lawyer.
That same year, Beebe began his political career with a race for the state Senate. After the incumbent senator from the newly redrawn district unexpectedly dropped out of the race, Beebe was left without a primary or general election opponent. He in fact never faced an opponent in a twenty-year Senate career in which he became known as one of the most effective legislators based on his pragmatic deal-making ability. During his last session in the state senate, Beebe was elected president pro tempore of the body.
In 2002, Beebe was elected the state’s fifty-first attorney general, again without opposition. In the summer of 2005, Beebe announced that he would be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2006. Although Beebe faced no opposition in the Democratic primary, he did finally face opposition in the general election from Republican Asa Hutchinson (former congressman and Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary), Green Party candidate Jim Lendall (a former Democratic state representative), and independent candidate Rod Bryan. Beebe raised and spent more money than any candidate for any political race in the state before him (over $6.5 million). His campaign emphasized a mixture of progressivism on economic issues (strong support for reducing the state’s sales tax on groceries, for raising the state’s minimum wage, for universal access to pre-kindergarten educational opportunities, and for maintenance of the state educational standards) and traditionalism on cultural issues (strong support for private property rights and gun ownership rights). On November 7, 2006, Beebe was elected with an overwhelming majority of the vote. Beebe received 55.6 percent of the vote, holding Hutchinson to only 40.7 percent; each of the two other candidates received approximately two percent of the vote. Beebe’s victory also had great geographical reach; he lost only fifteen of the state’s seventy-five counties. In 2010, Beebe was reelected with 64.18 percent of the vote against Republican Jim Keet, who took only 33.82 percent.
Beebe and his second wife, Ginger, have three adult children.
For additional information:Duffy, Joan. “Long Time Coming.” Arkansas Times. January 18, 2007, pp. 12–13, 16–17, 20–21.
Smith, Doug. “Moving On Up.” Arkansas Times. June 12, 2008, pp. 10–13, 15. Online at http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/moving-on-up/Content?oid=866592 (accessed December 6, 2011).
Wolfe, Ron. “Mike Beebe.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette. January 7, 2007, p. 1D, 6D.
Jay BarthHendrix College
Last Updated 12/6/2011
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