Bill Halter (1960–)
William Amos (Bill) Halter served as Arkansas’s lieutenant governor. He had previously worked as a congressional staffer and served in the administration of President Bill Clinton. He is most known for promoting the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery.
Bill Halter was born on November 30, 1960, in North Little Rock (Pulaski County). His father, William Halter, was a businessman and his mother, Nancy Halter, a nurse. Raised and educated in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Halter was valedictorian of the class of 1979 at Little Rock Catholic High School. He received his undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Stanford University in 1983. He then studied in England as a Rhodes Scholar, earning an economics degree from Oxford University in 1986.
Returning to the United States, Halter served as a management consultant with McKinsey and Company in New York from 1986 to 1989. While at McKinsey, he worked with a variety of companies, in addition to co-writing a study that looked at the management practices of successful companies.
In 1989, he joined Congress’s Joint Economic Committee as a staff economist. He moved from there to become the chief economist for the Senate Finance Committee. He moved to the executive branch in 1993 when he joined the administration of President Bill Clinton. During the Clinton administration, he served first in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), before being appointed deputy commissioner of Social Security in 1999. Later, he served as acting commissioner. Returning to Arkansas at the end of the Clinton administration, Halter again returned to the private sector, doing consulting work and serving on the board of directors of a number of tech companies, including Threshold Pharmaceuticals, Akamai Technologies, InterMune, Xenogen, webMethods, and Picasolar. He also stayed involved in politics; in 2004, Halter worked in the presidential campaign of General Wesley Clark, and when Clark left the race, Halter worked for Democratic nominee John Kerry. He was also involved with his alma mater, serving as a Stanford trustee from 1996 to 2003.
In 2006, he made a successful debut as a statewide candidate, winning the race for lieutenant governor. Running as a Democrat, he led a four-person field in the primary before winning a run-off against Tim Woolridge by over ten percent. In the general election, Halter won fifty-seven percent of the vote to prevail over Republican nominee Jim Holt. As lieutenant governor, Halter was the driving force behind the creation of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery. Beyond the state’s borders, Halter was active in the National Lieutenant Governors Association, serving as the organization’s Southern Region Chair.
In 2010, rather than seeking reelection, he made a run for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. However, despite considerable support from progressive elements of the party and organized labor, his effort to oust incumbent Blanche Lincoln was unsuccessful. Although he forced a run-off, he ultimately lost by narrow a margin, while Lincoln’s effort in the general election also fell short (she lost to Congressman John Boozman). In early 2013, Halter announced his candidacy for governor. However, when he found himself lagging behind former Congressman Mike Ross in fundraising in the early stages of the campaign, he ended the effort before the close of the year.
Leaving politics behind, Halter devoted his energies to the business world. He became the owner of Scenic Hill Groups, a corporate entity named for the area of North Little Rock where he grew up. In 2016, Scenic Hill Solar, of which Halter is the chief executive officer, announced that it would partner with cosmetics maker L’Oréal USA to build solar panels at its manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Arkansas, creating two of the biggest solar-powered projects in each state. The 4,000 solar panels at L’Oréal’s North Little Rock plant, which L’Oréal will own and Scenic Hill Solar will operate and maintain, will supply ten percent of the facility’s energy.
Halter and his wife, Shanti Patching, live in North Little Rock with their two daughters.
For additional information:
“Bill Halter.” Ballotpedia. http://ballotpedia.org/Bill_Halter (accessed September 22, 2020).
Brandon, Phyllis D. “William Amos Halter.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, November 26, 2000, High Profile. pp. 1D, 5D.
Sabin, Warwick, and Max Brantley. “The Halter Factor.” Arkansas Times, February 16, 2006. http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/the-halter-factor/Content?oid=863534 (accessed September 22, 2020).
William H. Pruden III
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