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Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Huckabee Moving to Florida — a Prelude to Another Presidential Run?

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Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet, are headed to the beach.

The couple is moving from Arkansas to a rental condo in the Florida panhandle. The former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate has moved his voter registration, and Janet Huckabee has already obtained a driver’s license in the Sunshine State and signed a Declaration of Domicile. Does that mean: Goodbye, Razorbacks; hello, Mickey Mouse?

Perhaps more to the point, does it mean: Hello, 2012 presidential bid?

Huckabee’s been coy about the latter issue, but as to the former, he told me, “We are keeping our house in Arkansas, but splitting our time between Arkansas, New York and Florida. Some of my business endeavors make the Florida residency more convenient for now.”
For Huckabee, who hosts a show on the Fox News Channel, the move could prove beneficial for his political endeavors too. A CNN/Opinion Research poll Tuesday showed him leading Mitt Romney in a possible GOP presidential primary.
Close Huckabee associates stress he is now a private citizen and focused on his television career and speaking engagements and that the move is not political. They say Huckabee, who clearly has reached celebrity status, thanks to his TV program, is tired of being watched and criticized by Arkansas’ media even though he is no longer in office.
Still, the beach buzz has made many Arkansans flash back to another political couple — Bill and Hillary.
The Clintons abandoned the state after eight years in the White House, choosing New York over Bill’s home turf to propel Hillary’s political career. It worked. She won a Senate seat and geared up for her 2008 presidential bid. Living in New York also made it easier for Bill’s international work with his Clinton Foundation.
Hillary was smart enough to know that her political career could never flourish properly in a place where gun-toting Southern belles are more popular than radical baby-boomer feminists.
Plus Bill had Arkansas covered for Hillary’s potential presidential run. He was the beloved native son from Hope who had given the state a gleaming $165 million tourist attraction — his presidential library.
A move to Florida would certainly disengage Huckabee from his Arkansas constituency, says Hal Bass, a political science professor at Huckabee’s alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark.
But Bass wonders if such heavy-handed retail politics are even needed these days.
“It may be that a candidate can build and maintain an electoral constituency apart from holding public office and through media exposure,” he said. “If he runs, his current identity and reputation as a media celebrity, along with his previous status as a Baptist preacher will likely overshadow the memories of him as a former governor of Arkansas.”
Huckabee, who, like Bill Clinton, was also born in Hope, has often had a peculiar relationship with his home state. On the Don Imus show in 2000, he called Arkansas a “banana republic” because of the likelihood of Democrats stealing elections. That same year, the first couple renovated the governor’s mansion and moved into a triple-wide trailer on the grounds. The couple appeared on “The Tonight Show” with their mobile home, but many people in the state thought the Huckabees made Arkansans look like a bunch of backwoods hillbillies.
They now own a $525,000 home in North Little Rock.
Janet Huckabee, a Louisiana native, even dabbled in Arkansas politics. In 2002, she was the GOP’s nominee for secretary of state but lost.
Mike Huckabee’s family ties in the state go back to the early 1800s. Close friends say the couple is 100 percent Arkansan and will never fully abandon the state. Huckabee will pop in and out of Arkansas as much as his speaking and television schedule allows. And he will try never to miss duck hunting season — one of his favorite fall pastimes.
Still, the Huckabees’ move to Florida residents could be for one other reason — their bottom line. Florida has no personal income tax or inheritance tax.
But is Huckabee really following Hillary Clinton’s model? Well, she called three states home (she was born in Illinois) and won two of them in the 2008 primaries.
Huckabee may be savvy enough to stake a claim now in two battleground states.
[Originally posted on Politics Daily 2010]
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Written by suziparker1313

March 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

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