June 17, 2007
Mike Beebe was born in rural Jackson County in 1946. After earning a law degree, he practiced law in Searcy (White County). In 1982, he was elected to the state Senate, where for twenty-one years he was known as one of its most effective legislators. In 2002, he was elected the state’s attorney general. Interestingly, he had no opposition in any of these races. In 2006, he was elected the state’s forty-fifth governor, defeating his first opponent, Republican Asa Hutchinson. He remained popular with Arkansas’s electorate across his entire eight-year term of service, with support that crossed party lines. The steadiness of the Arkansas economy and state finances during the Great Recession, the near total elimination of the state’s sales tax on groceries, and the culmination of the Lake View public school lawsuit were the hallmarks of the Beebe governorship, which was often characterized as “pragmatic.” However, Beebe also served as the leader of the state Democratic Party during its historic fall from power.