Arkansas state Senator Jim Hendren announced he is leaving the Republican Party due to the attempted insurrection on January 6.
Hendren also cited Trump's attacks on the late Senator John McCain, innumerable insults slung at women and immigrants and challenges to the legitimacy of the election leading up to the attack on January 6 as reasons for his break with the party.
"It would be easy to blame this on one person or a few. But, sadly, it runs more deeply and cuts more broadly than that."
"Over the course of the 2016 campaign season alone I heard people demonized as rapists and murderers. I watched the encouragement of the worst voices of racism, nationalism, and violence."
"I also heard a hero of mine, John McCain, and a true American hero called a loser on national television."
"I watched the former president actively fan the flames of racist rhetoric, make fun of those with disabilities, bully his enemies, and talk about women in ways that would never be tolerated in my home or business."
Having spent 4 years as @ARHouseCaucus GOP leader, 4 years as the @ARSenateGOP leader and last 2 years as… https://t.co/I7QJLHfpcb— Jim Hendren (@Jim Hendren)1613658441.0
Hendren said the attack on the capiol was the final straw that finally made him choose to part ways with the GOP.
"For me, that day was the final straw. I asked myself, what in the world would I tell my grandchildren when they ask one day, what happened and what did I do about it?"
You can view Senator Hendren's full video address below:
Many Twitter users commended Hendren for seeing reason and standing up for his beliefs.
@JimHendren1 @ARHouseCaucus @ARSenateGOP @ArkansasSenate @GOP As a Democrat who was raised by a GOP father whom I g… https://t.co/zugfXtiqNe— Cameron Cooper (@Cameron Cooper)1613710678.0
@JimHendren1 @ARHouseCaucus @ARSenateGOP @ArkansasSenate @GOP I can only imagine how difficult this decision was. I… https://t.co/rzomQQoJKp— Jessica R. Scott (@Jessica R. Scott)1613673235.0
@JimHendren1 @KARK4News @ARHouseCaucus @ARSenateGOP @ArkansasSenate @GOP Thank you for putting country over political part! Well done!— GGSandi (@GGSandi)1613661678.0
Hendren also announced the founding of Common Ground Arkansas, an organization with a mission to:
"work to find and support leaders willing to come together instead of continuing to push us apart."
Some cautioned finding common ground is not always necessarily a good idea.
@JimHendren1 @ARHouseCaucus @ARSenateGOP @ArkansasSenate @GOP Bravo. That’s a good first step. I left the corrupt p… https://t.co/uAfBUgPKUC— fed_up (@fed_up)1613672724.0
This is not the first time Hendren refused to simply toe the party line. He was the only Republican member of the Arkansas state Senate who voted against a "Stand Your Ground" bill earlier this year.
He also sponsored a hate crimes bill that is seeing significant pushback from the GOP. Arkansas is one of only 3 states that do not have any sort of hate crimes laws on the books.
Some from the Arkansas GOP are questioning the timing of Hendren's decision to cut ties with the party. Among them is Jonelle Fulmer, Arkansas State Republican Party Chairwoman.
Fulmer said in a statement:
"This is nothing more than an attempt to garner press for a future independent candidacy for governor."
Meanwhile, some state Democrats think Hendren's exit shows how far the GOP has strayed into the extremes.
Michael John Gray, Arkansas State Democratic Chairman said:
"Sen. Hendren's exit highlights the mistakes that have been made by blindly voting for Republicans based on the divisive national rhetoric."
Hendren, an Air Force veteran, later tweeted he had heard from other former and active duty servicemembers the events of January 6 were the final straw for them, too.
Since releasing my statement about leaving @GOP today, I’ve heard from dozens of my former military brothers and si… https://t.co/FBZdYSU79y— Jim Hendren (@Jim Hendren)1613702054.0
@JimHendren1 @MalteseManatee @GOP Thank you for finally putting our country over your party.— CatMom 🇺🇸 (@CatMom 🇺🇸)1613743154.0