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Mike Huckabee – Former Governor, Pastor, and Political Commentator

Full Name Michael Dale Huckabee
Birthday August 24, 1955 (age 68)
Birthplace Hope, Arkansas, United States
Residence Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, United States
Alma mater Ouachita Baptist University
Occupation Politician, Commentator, Author, Pastor
Years active 1976–present
Political party Republican
Spouse Janet Huckabee (m. 1974)
Children 3, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Social Media Facebook

Early Life and Education

Mike Huckabee was born on August 24, 1955 in Hope, Arkansas. He was one of three children born to fireman and auto mechanic Dorsey Wiles Huckabee and his wife Mae Huckabee. The family moved to Texarkana when Mike was in eighth grade.

In 1973, Huckabee graduated from Hope High School. He went on to attend Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas where he majored in religion and was active in Christian student organizations. He graduated magna cum laude in 1974.

After completing his bachelor‘s degree, Huckabee enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas to train for the ministry. However, he dropped out after just one year.

Early Career

After leaving seminary in 1975, Mike Huckabee worked at television station KXAS-TV in Fort Worth. He also volunteered for numerous political campaigns, including John Tower‘s successful Senate re-election bid in 1976.

In 1980, Huckabee became a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He served in this position for six years, growing the congregation with his communication and public speaking skills.

Starting in 1986, he hosted a show called "Positive Alternatives" on ACTS-TV, an affiliate of the American Christian Television System. This allowed him to build name recognition with Christian and conservative voters.

Early Political Career

Mike Huckabee first ran for elected office in 1992. After incumbent Democratic Lt. Governor Jim Guy Tucker vacated his seat to become Governor of Arkansas, Huckabee entered the special election to fill the open position. He defeated Democrat Nate Coulter and served as Lt. Governor from 1993-1996.

In 1996, Governor Tucker resigned due to a felony conviction related to the Whitewater scandal. This elevated Lt. Governor Huckabee to the governorship. He won his first full term as governor by defeating retired Colonel Gene McVay in 1998.

Major Accomplishments as Governor

Mike Huckabee served as Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. Here are some highlights from his time in office:

  • Implemented the ARKids First program to provide health insurance coverage for children
  • Spearheaded gas tax increases to fund over $1 billion in road construction projects
  • Signed the ACADEMIC Facilities Partnership Act to assist school districts in improving buildings
  • Launched the Healthy Arkansas initiative to combat obesity and promote nutrition and fitness
  • Cut taxes by over $150 million including eliminating sales tax on groceries

Huckabee worked collaboratively across party lines during his tenure. He focused on education, health care, infrastructure, and economic policy reforms. He left office in 2007 with an 84% approval rating.

2008 Presidential Campaign

Encouraged by positive poll numbers, Huckabee decided to run for President in 2008. Positioning himself as the conservative choice over frontrunner John McCain, he campaigned heavily on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

Huckabee won 8 statewide primaries and finished 3rd overall in delegates behind McCain and Mitt Romney. Though he failed to clinch the nomination, the relatively unknown Arkansas governor generated national name recognition for possible future campaigns.

Media Career and 2016 Campaign

After leaving the governorship, Huckabee moved to Florida and became a Fox News political commentator. From 2008-2015, he hosted talk shows on Fox News Channel and ABC Radio Networks.

Huckabee ran again for President in 2016, but was unable to recreate the momentum of his prior campaign. After winning only the Iowa caucus, he suspended his campaign after just 4 months.

Today, he continues to make frequent media appearances providing conservative political commentary. He has also authored over 12 books on policy, politics, and personal health.

Political Views and Positions

Some of Mike Huckabee‘s major policy positions include:

  • Strongly pro-life and supports overturning Roe v. Wade
  • Opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions
  • Supports Second Amendment gun ownership rights
  • Wants to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act
  • Favors reducing taxes and government spending
  • Supports school choice through education savings accounts
  • Opposes both evolution and embryonic stem cell research

His stances reflect social conservatism combined with economic populism. This blend of policy views earned him the loyalty of Southern evangelicals and blue-collar Americans.

Personal Life

Mike Huckabee married Janet McCain in 1974. They have three adult children: John Mark Huckabee, David Huckabee, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald Trump from 2017-2019.

The Huckabees are devout Southern Baptists and spent time early in their marriage as missionaries in the Caribbean. Faith continues to play a critical role in their lives.

In his free time, Huckabee enjoys playing bass guitar, running marathons, and writing. The health-conscious septuagenarian has completed over a dozen full marathons since turning 50.

Legacy and Impact

Mike Huckabee left a significant impact on Arkansas through his policy reforms and bipartisan leadership as governor in the 1990s and early 2000s. His amiable personality and communication savvy also made him a leading voice for evangelical Christians and social conservatives nationwide.

Though unsuccessful in his quests for the presidency, Huckabee changed expectations for who could become a viable presidential contender. His popularity exposed the growing political strength of grassroots Christian conservatives during the 2008 election cycle.

Despite coming up short in his ultimate dream to occupy the Oval Office, Mike Huckabee has remained an influential figure in conservative politics for over three decades. His commentary, advocacy, and legacy as Arkansas governor will likely continue shaping policy debates around key social and religious issues for years to come.