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Arkansas' New Republican Party Chair Hopes To Expand Its Existing Appeal

 Jonelle Fulmer (center) will serve as chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arkansas after being elected to the position Saturday.
Republican Party of Arkansas

The Republican Party of Arkansas elected a new chairperson for the first time in 12 years. In early December, the party elected Jonelle Fulmer to serve as chair. KUAR spoke with Fulmer about her ideas for the future of the Republican Party in Arkansas. Below is the transcript of the aired conversation.

KUAR: What are some of your short-term goals for the party and what are some long-term goals?

Fulmer: "One is to not screw up what Doyle Webb has left behind. He has done an amazing job, left us a very solid foundation on which to build and I want to keep us strong. I want to of course not lose any numbers in our general assembly and around the state and I want to grow those numbers.

"So we are right now, thanks to him and all of his work and the amazing candidates we’ve had, the reddest state in the nation. And it is my hope and my sincere goal to make sure we don’t lose that designation and perhaps become even redder."

KUAR: So with regards to making the state redder, the state is already pretty red. The legislature coming in is a supermajority. So how do you expand the appeal of the party?

Fulmer: "One of my goals is to strengthen our counties. So we want to get back to our grassroots level, get our chairmen and our county committees trained so that they can go out and be great representatives for our Republican Party. For a lot of people, that person you meet in the county is the Republican Party. That may be your only connection to the party so we want them to be able to voice what our party stands for, where we came from, where we’re going, what our policies are, what our platform says. We want them to be able to represent so that the people that they speak to understand that we are the party that represents most Arkansans.

"And then we want to also reach across a lot of the demographics and the ethnic divides that perhaps we haven’t been so great at reaching. And again we want them to understand that our party is the party that has supported minorities through the years. We are the party that has the polices that represent them now. And I think if people can get that message it will definitely grow our numbers as far as voters, as far as volunteers, as far as candidates. We’re still seeing candidates want to switch parties because they’re finding out that the Republican Party represents them. So I think if we can do that, we can get our messages out and reach people, we will grow our party in just every way."

KUAR: How will you work with Arkansas state legislators this coming session? What do you envision the role of the party will be when it comes to state politics?

Fulmer: "Our number one job is electing them. So once we’ve got them there, we are proud to have the beautiful new facility, and I might add Chairman Webb was the visionary who envisioned it and almost single-handedly raised the money to pay for it. We are so pleased to be able to offer this facility to them for their caucus meetings, for conference calls, whatever purpose they might find for it here.

"And then we want to support them as far as messaging when possible. If there’s something they’re doing that is just highly supportive of platform issues and things like, we want to highlight those things. And we are here for them if they call us and need us for something. We do have a very nice new room for them to do videos. So we’re excited to offer those things for them and we’re here if there’s anything else they might ask of us. If we are able, we are happy to support."

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