May 6, 2003
Posted at: 1:56 p.m. CDT
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party says President Bush's visit to the state does not telegraph a run for Senate by former congressman Asa Hutchinson.
Hutchinson represented the Third District before he resigned to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration. Since then, he's taken the job as undersecretary of homeland security.
Hutchinson says he's not planning to challenge Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln in her re-election race next year.
GOP chairman Marty Ryall said after Bush's visit yesterday that Hutchinson will not be a candidate.
When asked if Hutchinson would run if the president asked, Ryall softened his remarks but said he still didn't believe Hutchinson would make the race.
Bush carried Arkansas in 2000 and it is considered key to his re-election hopes next year. It also would benefit the GOP and perhaps increase its Senate majority if a Republican candidate could defeat Lincoln next year.