Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Francis “Doc” Washburn believes he’s a “true conservative” alternative to Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the Republican primary.
“If you want to continue big government and high taxes, you vote for Sarah,” Washburn said Monday at a lunch-time campaign stop at The Apaches Grill in Searcy. “If you want somebody that wants to vastly cut the size and scope of government and get them off your back and out of you wallet, vote for me. I think it’s a pretty stark distinction.”
Washburn and Sanders are vying to be the Republican nominee to replace Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is term-limited. The winner of the May 24 primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary from among Anthony “Tony” Bland, Chris Jones, James “Rus” Russell III, Jay Martin and Supha Xayprasith-Mays and Libertarian Party candidate Ricky Dale Harrington in the November general election.
Early voting in the primaries is underway at the White County Cooperative Extension Service Office, 2400 Old Landing Road, and the Carmichael Community Center, 801 S. Elm St., from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays. The last day of early voting is May 23, when it will be held from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Washburn visited Searcy to campaign before a small crowd, the same day Sanders brought her “Freedom Tour” to the Robbins Sanford Grand Hall and a much larger crowd as the presumptive favorite to win the nomination. The Daily Citizen has published a couple of articles on speeches given by Sanders.
Washburn, a former afternoon radio talk show host, believes he represents a change in the status quo, while “if you want status quo to continue, Sarah is your candidate.”
“Day one, I will sign an executive order ordering school districts to stop force-masking anybody and we will sign legislation codifying that into state law,” said Washburn, who now reports and comments on the news on a national podcast. “When I introduce myself to people, I say ‘I’m Doc Washburn, Republican running for governor.’ Unlike my opponent, I don’t mind answering questions, which is why I do things like this [the lunch gathering] and she doesn’t.
“She goes to Birmingham [Ala.], Mar a Lago [Fla.], Austin, Texas, and charges $5,000 or $6,000 a plate for people to listen to her talk for 10 or 15 minutes about working in the White House. I don’t think that really addresses what’s going on in Arkansas.”
Washburn said he also wants to sign legislation making Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine available over the counter as treatments for COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of either for treating or preventing the virus and says that dangers could include birth defects with Ivermectin (and more with dosages intended for animals) and “serious heart rhythm abnormalities, severe liver inflammation and kidney failure” with HCQ.
Washburn said if he’s elected he plans to “get rid of state income tax now, get rid of the income tax to small businesses now, get rid of the tax on used goods now, including used cars.”
When asked how he would do that, he said, “Well, the first thing is to sign the legislation [which would have to be passed by state legislators], but I guess the first thing is, how can we afford to do it? We are sitting on a $1.2 billion tax surplus; they are taxing the daylights out of us. I want to give a third of that to the taxpayers, keep a third for a rainy day fund and spend the other third on a forensic audit of our whole government and figuring out what we can get rid of.”
Washburn said there were a lot of things in government that could be cut to get taxes lowered. He asked how many empty buildings the state government owned and how many vehicles does the state own that “we don’t know what’s happening with them.”
Recently, he said he bought a 2013 Honda Accord with 85,000 miles on it for $15,000, He said he went to the Department of Motor Vehicles office and found out his sales tax was $1,038. “Everybody just about in Arkansas is feeling the pain of a Biden inflation every time they go to the grocery store and every time they try to put gas in their tank.”
Washburn also briefly addressed abortion, saying, “There’s nothing more important than stopping the murder of the unborn,” before turning to “child welfare agencies.”
“We are the only state in the country that has two child welfare agencies, just for starters; we’ve got DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services] over here and Crimes Against Children over here,” he said. “If the state takes your children, you are presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent.”
If elected, Washburn said he will order state child welfare workers to wear body cameras when they interact with parents and children.
“I’ll order child welfare workers to give Miranda rights to parents and stop trying to force their way into people’s homes without a warrant because the parents don’t know their constitutional rights,” Washburn said. “When child welfare workers can take children away from parents who haven’t done anything wrong, with impunity, they’re never held accountable and the parents have to hire a lawyer and maybe can’t afford one.”
He also talked about the state Office of Long Term Care, which he said “is supposed to be inspecting the nursing homes but they don’t.” Washburn said if he is elected governor, he will issue an executive order day one ordering the Office of Long Term Care “to enforce the law and inspect the nursing homes. It’s outrageous with what’s going in.”
Turning to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual matters, Washburn said, “There is such a push for the LGBTQIA++ agenda that you find pornographic material in the children section of public libraries or even in the school libraries.” He said the problem is there is a loophole in state statutes that librarians “can’t be held responsible for children getting their hands on pornography.”
Real school choice is something Washburn said he would sign a bill for, although it would first have to be passed by the Legislature. “The money should follow the students, not the public schools.,” he said
Washburn also called critical race theory, an academic framework based around systemic racism. “child abuse and racist. This is 2022 not 1947. We’ve got to outlaw this harmful indoctrination of our children.”
Washburn also said it is obvious the 2020 election was stolen, referring to claims made by former President Donald Trump that he did not lose to President Joe Biden but was the victim of voter fraud. Those claims have been refuted by state election officials, including fellow Republicans, federal government agencies and courts.
“If you want to change things like I have been talking about changing things, I’m your candidate,” Washburn said. “She’s raised over $13 million. I run all over the state and just talk to people for free, and everywhere I go, people say, ‘We were supporting Sarah, but now we are supporting you.’ If I can get my message out to enough people, I will be the nominee and I will be the governor.
“And I don’t need $13 million, I don’t even need $1.3 million; if I can raise $130,000, 1 percent of what she can raise, that will be enough money, pardon me, [to] use Facebook, YouTube, robocalls, radio station commercials. We are getting the word out as fast as we can.”