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Arkansas GOP chairman appeals for party unity at Benton County event

by Doug Thompson | March 10, 2023 at 8:31 a.m.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas Cody Hiland speaks March 2, 2021, at the state Capitol in Little Rock. Now the state Republican Party chairman, Hiland spoke Thursday during the monthly meeting of the Benton County Republican Committee. (File Photo/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staton Breidenthal)

ROGERS -- State Republican Party chairman Cody Hiland appealed for party unity Thursday while speaking during the monthly meeting of the Benton County Republican Committee.

"No external threat from the left is greater than disagreements with each other," Hiland said. "There's been some fracturing in the Republican Party." The problems are mainly personality conflicts and growing pains, he said in an interview after the speech, not ideological rifts. "Growing pains are good," he said. "It means you're growing."

State Sen. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers, said there have been some disputes between longtime Republicans and newer arrivals. Republicans were in the minority and mainly centered in central and Northwest Arkansas until the 2012 election, the first time Democrats lost control of both chambers of the Legislature since the 19th century. Now Republicans enjoy a supermajority with 26 of the 35 state Senators and 82 of the 100 House seats.

"Things are better today than they were two years ago" in party unity, Bryant said in an interview after Hiland's speech. Hiland also said in his interview that the growing pains he referred to involved bringing in "new folks" to a greatly expanded party.

Still, Hiland warned the county committee against letting minor disputes fester.

"We don't have a lot of time for squabbling with each other over the color of the carpet in the church," Hiland told the crowd of about 126, which gathered in the New Hope Assembly of God in Rogers.

The meeting began with a chili supper and dessert auction at 5:30 p.m., followed by the county committee's business meeting.

"Disunion and division is more damaging than anything the left can do to us," Hiland said.

The state party will depend on county committees for candidate recruitment, Hiland said. County chairwoman Barbara Tillman praised the state party's outreach to counties in her introduction of Hiland.

"I've never seen as much communication out of Little Rock as I'm seeing now," she said. State party headquarters is in Little Rock.

The state party needs county party help finding school board, county government and judicial candidates, Hiland told the group. Those candidates not only need to be conservative, but need to have "steel spines" to stick to those conservative principles if elected.

Print Headline: State GOP chairman appeals for party unity


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