LITTLE ROCK — Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Debra Hobbs stressed her conservative bona fides during a speech Tuesday and suggested later that people on public assistance should also have a job application on file.
Hobbs, who lives in Rogers and is in the middle of her third and final term in the state House, said in a speech to the Political Animals Club that she believes in "individual responsibility and liberty secured by limited government."
In an interview, she would support implementation in Arkansas a version of a South Carolina program that requires people on welfare to seek employment. Welfare or food stamp recipients should be required to have updated job applications on file with the state Department of Workforce Services, she said.
"Obviously if people stay on government subsidies … if they continue that lifestyle they’re going to continue in poverty," she said. "Workforce Services could then help those people find a job."
Hobbs is one of three candidates for the Republican nomination for governor in 2014, along with former Congressman Asa Hutchinson and Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman.
Former Congressman Mike Ross is the only Democrat to announce.
During a speech to the Political Animals Club, Hobbs said her involvement in local issues in Northwest Arkansas led her to the state Legislature and to wanting to be governor.
A former Benton County justice of the peace, she said she supports the goals and ideals of both the Tea Party and Republican Party and would represent all citizens across the state if elected governor rather than be part of the political establishment.
"To me, establishment means they they know better than the people, and I want someone there who will represent the needs of the people," she said.
Hobbs said she once was content to work for other candidates and it was not until she saw how concerned Benton County residents were about a private property issue that she decided to run for the quorum court.
She said described herself as a pro-life, fiscal conservative who supports the Second Amendment, limited government and "equal and just enforcement of the law."
"We don’t need to raise taxes, but we need to be better stewards with the money we have," she said, adding that she thinks too many people are receiving government benefits when they could be working, and that non-profit organizations "do a much better job" in assisting people than the government.
"We need to make sure we can do all we can to enable and not take away from those who are taking on that personal responsibility," she said.
She also spoke about self-reliance and referred to the July 4 holiday.
"We as a people aren’t celebrating independence, but drifting towards dependence" on government programs, she said.
Hobbs said she frequently asks herself why she decided to run for governor, and said she thinks "people are sick and tired … of politics as usual."
Before Hobbs’ addressed the Political Animals Club President Rex Nelson said U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, who is running for the U.S. Senate, will speak to the group on Oct. 7. Nelson said he is still trying to schedule U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.