LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas Republicans tried to distance themselves Saturday from a Republican legislator’s assertion that slavery was a “blessing in disguise” and a Republican state House candidate who advocates deporting all Muslims.

The claims were made in books written, respectively, by state Rep. Jon Hubbard of Jonesboro and House candidate Charlie Fuqua of Batesville. Those books received attention on Internet news sites Friday.

On Saturday, state Republican Chairman Doyle Webb called the books “highly offensive.”

Hubbard wrote in his 2009 self-published book, “Letters To The Editor: Confessions Of A Frustrated Conservative,” that “the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” He also wrote that African-Americans were better off than they would have been had they not been captured and shipped to the U.S.

Fuqua, who served in the Arkansas House from 1996 to 1998, wrote there is “no solution to the Muslim problem short of expelling all followers of the religion from the United States,” in his 2012 book, titled “God’s Law.”

Fuqua said Saturday that he hadn’t realized he’d become a target within his own party, which he said surprised him.

“I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people,” said Fuqua, an attorney.

Hubbard, a marketing representative, didn’t return voicemail messages seeking comment Saturday.

The November elections could be a turning point in Arkansas politics. Democrats hold narrow majorities in both chambers, but the Republican Party has been working hard to swing the Legislature its way. Their efforts have also been backed by an influx of money from national political action committees.

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., kicked off the Republican response Saturday by saying that the “statements of Hubbard and Fuqua are ridiculous, outrageous and have no place in the civil discourse of either party.”

“Had I known of these statements, I would not have contributed to their campaigns. I am requesting that they give my contributions to charity,” Griffin, who donated $100 to each candidate, said in a release.

The Arkansas Republican House Caucus said the views of Hubbard and Fuqua “are in no way reflective of, or endorsed by, the Republican caucus.”

Then Webb said the writings “were highly offensive to many Americans and do not reflect the viewpoints of the Republican Party of Arkansas.”

Webb, though, accused state Democrats of using the issue as a distraction.

Democrats themselves have been largely silent, aside from a state party tweet and Facebook post calling attention to the writings. A Democratic Party spokesman didn’t immediately return a call for comment Saturday.

 

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