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Arkansas state senator says he’s leaving Republican Party

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A longtime northwest Arkansas legislator and nephew of the state’s Republican governor says he’s leaving the GOP.

State Sen. Jim Hendren of Gravette on Thursday announced the decision in a nine-minute video (watch below), citing Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol by the former president’s supporters.

Hendren’s decision closes the door on him seeking the GOP nomination for governor next year, but he says he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of running as an independent.

Hendren’s decision keeps him out of a primary that has been overshadowed by former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ candidacy.

Jonelle Fulmer, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, released the following statement on Jim Hendren’s announcement:

“Not once, to myself or my predecessor, has Jim Hendren ever picked up the phone to express concerns. He gladly received our substantial support over the years, including a mail piece from us last fall in his bid for re-election, where he ran on the Republican ticket a mere three months ago.

“The Republican Party has plenty of room for differing ideas. In fact, that is what has made us the majority party of Arkansas. Some of the concerns raised by Jim stem from a presidential primary five years ago, which calls into question his motivation now.

“This is nothing more than an attempt to garner press for a future independent candidacy for governor, knowing that he cannot compete with the conservative records of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge or Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

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