Arkansas remembers GOP founding father
HARRISON, Ark. — John Paul Hammerschmidt, a founding father of the GOP in this once solidly blue Southern state, was remembered Monday for the pragmatic streak that allowed him to narrowly beat back a spirited 1974 challenge from Bill Clinton and spend 26 years in the House.
“He knew when to be a liberal, when to be conservative, when to be strong and when to keep his mouth shut,” H.D. McCarty, a Baptist pastor, sermonized during a memorial service. “I believe that’s what made him the great man he was.”
Hammerschmidt, who died last month at 92, became in 1966 the first Republican elected to Congress from Arkansas since Reconstruction, and he won a dozen more times before retiring in 1992. He mentored generations of GOP leaders, including presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, current Gov. Asa Hutchinson and senior Sen. John Boozman.