Date of Award
Dr. Trey Berry
Dr. Douglas Reed
Dr. Mark E. Miller
The state of Arkansas is no stranger to succession crises. As early as the Reconstruction era, struggles for power emerged, and controversies surrounding the appropriate use of power among acting governors have kept the issue unsettled. One such instance, the Arkansas gubernatorial succession crisis of 1996 became yet another episode in this saga. While never fully examined, the succession crisis did influence modern politics in the state. There are two sides to every story: "Well, I wanted to let you know I've decided not to resign," Jim Guy Tucker said to Mike Huckabee only five minutes before the inauguration of the new governor, and Huckabee responded, "I'm supposed to take the oath of office in five minutes. I respectfully ask that you reconsider this action, not only to keep your word, but for the welfare of the state of Arkansas. "
The story from both sides, the Governor at the time, Jim Guy Tucker, and succeeding Governor, Mike Huckabee, will be presented in a synthesis approach; this paper is meant to present an objective and balanced view of the time leading to the crisis event itself on July 15, 1996. Arkansas's succession crisis involved Governor Tucker deciding not to resign at the last minute, as he had previously promised, following an indictment linked to Whitewater investigations. This decision left Huckabee and other members of the government in a difficult position where there were times in which it was unclear as to who was legally governor.
Although the 1996 succession crisis was resolved in a few hours, other episodes of seizing power and unclear succession are found in Arkansas's history. The Brooks-Baxter War of 1872 clearly follows many of the same patterns as the Huckabee-Tucker crisis.
Miller, Melissa, "A Tale of Two Governors: The 1996 Gubernatorial Succession Crisis" (2004). Honors Theses. 84.