LITTLE ROCK — Three Republican candidates who drew election-season criticism for their comments or writings on slavery and other contentious topics lost bids for the state House in the general election, an outcome the Gov. Mike Beebe said Wednesday should be a warning to elected officials.
"I think it says you better be careful what kind of strange positions you take because the Arkansas electorate is going to speak when they hear stuff like what those three candidates espoused," Beebe said.
Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro lost to Democratic challenger Harold Copenhaver of Jonesboro, Rep. Loy Mauch of Bismarck lost to Democrat David Kizzia of Malvern and former state Rep. Charles Fuqua of Batesville lost to Rep. James McLean, D-Batesville.
Hubbard, already under fire for comments in a book he published in 2009 that slavery was a "blessing in disguise" for blacks, drew further criticism last month in comparing Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to Nazis in a letter to the Jonesboro Sun newspaper.
Fuqua and Mauch also have drawn criticism from both parties in recent weeks for their writings. Fuqua wrote in a book titled "God’s Law" published this year that all Muslims in the United States should be expelled and suggested using the death penalty on rebellious children.
Mauch wrote in a letter to the editor in a Little Rock newspaper in 2001 that Abraham Lincoln was a terrorist.
Candace Martin, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, said the party was pleased the three were defeated.
"While those three races in particular have been high-profile because of the outlandish and backwards comments that they made, the most important thing is that those communities will be represented by individuals who are going to be focused on jobs and the economy, not offensive and backwards ideas and statements."
Last month, state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said the comments made by the three did not reflect the positions of the state Republican Party and announced that the party would no longer contribute to their campaigns, but he stopped short of asking them to withdraw. In an interview on radio station KARN he said he expected Hubbard and Mauch to be re-elected, wished the candidates good luck and said he believed in free speech.
Webb said Wednesday, "I stand by my statement previously that those candidates, their districts would determine whether they should represent them in the Legislature, and the people of those districts have now spoken."
Mauch could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Fuqua and Hubbard did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
John Lyon contributed to this report.