Today, Senator Jim Hendren announced that he would be leaving the Republican Party.  Hendren said he would continue to serve Arkansans as an Independent, attributing the change to a “broken system.”

“My commitment to our state and our country is greater than loyalty to any political party,” he said in his announcement video. He attributed his leaving to extremist behavior and the divisive nature of party politics. “Way too often we seem unable to agree on simple facts,” he said.

Hendren has been on the moderate side of his party, often breaking with them in independent streaks. He’s proven himself as a champion for bipartisan leadership. In his announcement, he mentions Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, and Governor Asa Hutchinson, expressing the need to move forward by working together and finding common ground.

“That’s why I’m making this change, I’m doing this because I believe the best politics, the ones that really serve the people, happen when we come together,” Hendren explained. “It’s this middle way that has led to our greatest achievements in Arkansas.”

Working together to better Arkansas should be the top priority of every legislator. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Oark, took to twitter to express his disappointment with Hendren’s decision to leave the Republican Party.

AP Photo/Danny Johnston

“Great men often fall, but it’s never pretty and it is always sad,” he said in true Ballinger fashion, completely missing the point of Hendren’s decision. 

Throughout his announcement, Hendren pushed for unity, collaboration, and finding middle ground in order to serve all of Arkansans. This is the behavior Arkansans want and expect from their legislature, not extremism or divisiveness.