Jimmie Lou Fisher

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Jimmie Lou Fisher
Arkansas State Treasurer
In office
January 19, 1981 – January 14, 2003
Governor Frank D. White (1981-1983)

Bill Clinton (1983-1992)
Jim Guy Tucker (1992-1996)
Mike Huckabee(1996-2003)

Preceded by Nancy Hall
Succeeded by Gus Wingfield
Personal details
Born (1941-12-31) December 31, 1941 (age 72)
Delight, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Residence Paragould, Arkansas
Alma mater Arkansas State College

Jimmie Lou Fisher (born December 31, 1941 in Delight, Arkansas), grew up in Paragould, Arkansas. She attended school at Delaplaine School in Delaplaine, Arkansas. She, at a very early age, became interested in politics, and aspired to be successful. She graduated from Vilonia High School, and attended Arkansas State College in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and after graduating went on to hold a number of jobs, and was a party activists for over a decade. She has described herself as lifelong, diehard, yellow dog Democrat. [1]

Early political career[edit]

Fisher was elected Treasurer of Greene County, Arkansas, in 1970, and went on to serve four two year terms, until in 1979, when newly elected Governor Bill Clinton, appointed her Auditor of State.

Aside from that, she was very active in Democratic politics at the same time. She served as Vice Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic State Committee from 1976-1978 and went on to serve as a member of the Democratic National Committee during the same time period, 1976-1978. In 1978, she helped run then Arkansas Attorney General Bill Clinton's ultimately successful run for governor, serving as his 1st Congressional District Coordinator. [2]

Other democratic activism[edit]

Fisher is noted as one of the major women in Arkansas politics, and one of the better known, and high powered Arkansas Democratic activists. Positions she has held include:

  • Vice Chairman of Democratic State Committee, 1976–78, November 1991-September 1993
  • Member of Democratic National Committee, 1976–78, and November 1991-September 1993
  • Past President of the Arkansas Democratic Women’s Club
  • Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000
  • Member of the Credentials Committee, Democratic National Convention 1976

Tenure as State Treasurer[edit]

Jimmie Lou Fisher served as Auditor of State for one year. In 1980 she retired to run for State Treasurer when Nancy Hall, the first woman ever elected as a statewide constitutional officer in Arkansas, retired after serving 18 years. Jimmie Lou Fisher easily won the primary due to her powerful connections within the Arkansas Democratic Party. She then went on to win the General Election just as easily, and in doing so, became only the third woman ever to be elected to statewide office in Arkansas (behind Hall and Senator Hattie Caraway). She then went on to win three two-year terms as State Treasurer, and four four-year terms, serving a total of 22 years as State Treasurer, making her the longest serving State Treasurer in the history of Arkansas, and placing her among its longest serving statewide officials.

In 1987 she served as Vice President for the Southern Region of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers. Later, in 1990, she served as President of the National Association of State Treasurers.

Mrs. Fisher was a very active State Treasurer. In 1995 she was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging, and was later appointed to the Rural Telephone Commission by President Bill Clinton.

While Treasurer, Mrs. Fisher served as a member of the board of Arkansas Development Finance Authority, the Arkansas Public Employees Retirement System Board, the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System Board, and was a member and Secretary of the Arkansas State Board of Finance. [3]

Awards[edit]

Throughout her long career Mrs. Fisher has won many distinguished awards and honors, including:

  • Arkansas Democratic Party “Gressie Carnes Award” 1979
  • Worthen Bank Professional Women’s Advisory Board "Arkansas Professional Women of Distinction Award” 1989
  • George C. Douthit “Freedom of Information Award” 1989
  • National Association of State Treasurers “Jesse Unruh Award” 1991
  • National Association of Democratic Women “Outstanding Elected Democratic Women Holding Public Office Award” 1992
  • Arkansas Federation of Democratic Women “Nancy J. Hall Award” 1995
  • Arkansas Easter Seal
    • “Arkansan of the Year” 1997
    • "Top 100 Women in Arkansas" 1997, 1998, 1999
  • UALR “Women of Arkansas – Agent of Change Award”, 2000
  • Association of Government Accountants “Financial Manager of the Year” 2000

2002 gubernatorial race[edit]

In 2002 the Arkansas Democratic Party asked Fisher to be its candidate against Mike Huckabee, because they felt that she was the strongest candidate possible. They didn't want to allow the highly popular Huckabee to blow past the opposition to another term as he had done 1998, when he easily defeated the Democratic candidate in what was an embarrissingly large defeat for the Democratic Party. Determined not to let that happen again, the Democratic Party came to Fisher. Fisher was not able to run for another term for State Treasurer because of the 1994 term-limits law that voters had passed. Because of this, Fisher reluctantly agreed to take on Huckabee. Despite her reluctance to enter the race originally, Fisher ran an incredibly strong and active campaign. She raised over $1 million, and campaigned hard across the state.

She hit Huckabee hard on Education with her REACH proposal. This came at a time where Huckabee was very vulnerable on that issue due to public frustration about poor education funding for rural schools. Other highlights of her campaign included: ethics accountability, prescription drug relief for seniors, Economic Growth and raising the minimum wage, crime, (during a time when Huckabee was being slammed due to questionable pardons, including one that left two woman dead in Missouri), and fiscal responsibility. [4]

Polling showed the race slowly narrowing, but Fisher was unable to cut into Huckabee's lead enough to win. Huckabee was also helped by the positive political wave for Republicans that swept through nation the that year, though it did little to save incumbent U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson, from his loss, by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin, to then Attorney General Mark Pryor. In the end Fisher performed very well, far better than the Democrats' 1998 candidate. Fisher managed to hold the personally popular Mike Huckabee to a margin of victory of 53 percent to 47 percent, giving him a real race, which was just what the Democratic Party had hoped for when it pushed her into the race.

Election history[edit]

2002 General Election

Candidate Votes %
Mike Huckabee (R) 427,082 53.01
Jimmie Lou Fisher (D) 378,250 46.95
Mike Huckabee (R) re-elected to 2nd term

2006 Democratic Attorney General primary[edit]

In 2006 Fisher signed on as Campaign Chairwoman for State Representative Dustin McDaniel of Jonesboro, who recently won an incredibly close race against North Little Rock City Attorney Paul Suskie for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General. This was thought by many political experts to be the biggest boost to McDaniel's campaign, even bigger than the endorsements of dozens of former presidents of the Arkansas State Bar Association, signifying Fisher's prominence among Democrats in the state. [5]

2006 hospitalization[edit]

Fisher was checked into St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock on the morning of April 12, 2006. She apparently suffered a "mini-stroke" similar to one U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a few months before. She first noticed something odd while preparing breakfast that morning. She immediately called her sister, who drove her to a family doctor. He went on to send her straight the emergency room. Later it was determined that it was not progressing, and that she was stable. Those around her have said that she is positive as always, and appears to be doing just fine. Doctors kept her in the hospital for almost a month and a half to keep her under observation, and perform tests. She was later released after she cleared all the tests, and they noted no further symptoms or complications. [6], [7].

Other references[edit]

http://wasearch.loc.gov/e22k/20021101080301/http://www.jimmieloufisher.com/

Preceded by
Nancy Hall
Arkansas State Treasurer
1980-2002
Succeeded by
Gus Wingfield