Lieutenant governor hopeful Jim Holt said the Lord brought him into politics.
"We asked the Lord to send us to the hardest mission field. Maybe he did," said the preacher-turned-politician.
In August 1999, Holt, who was ordained a minister in 1996 by the Southern Baptist Church, and his family were packing for a missionary trip to Russia. While he was packing, his mother called, something she typically didn't do.
"She said we couldn't go to Russia. She said God told her he wanted me to run for office," he said.
Holt, a military man, followed the advice and ran for the Arkansas House of Representatives for District 5. He won the seat in the 2000 election.
In 2002 he was elected to the Arkansas Senate for District 35, a capacity he still serves in today.
"From the House to the Senate our message hasn't changed," he said. "It's about giving the government back to the people. We need people in office not to let the government grow. I also want to get us out of the 49ers complex. Arkansas is ranked 49th in about everything."
Holt said he hopes to continue to work toward his goal by attaining another position, that of lieutenant governor. Holt announced his candidacy March 12, three days after he and his wife and eight (now nine) children made the decision.
"We need to change the way the game is played," Holt said. "That's what we've been doing now for six years. I just try to stick up for what is just and fair."
Holt, a Republican, said Republicans and Democrats need to set aside their party affiliations and work together for a better Arkansas.
"People say they vote Democrat because they are typically for the average Joe. Our whole platform is for the working guy," Holt said. "There are some Republicans I wouldn't vote for and there are some Democrats I do vote for."
Holt said the purpose of political parties is to simply win elections.
"We won't cave to party pressure or special interest pressure," he said. "I think that means a lot to people knowing how to vote."
Holt said the state has too many programs and taxes.
Arkansas has the fourth highest tax burden in the nation, Holt said. Arkansas also has the number one sales tax in the nation at 11.5 percent, he said. In addition, approximately 50 to 60 percent of the average employee's salary goes toward taxes, he said.
"I want to help the poor, and the best way is to get the government off their back," Holt said. "We're losing the ability to decide what we want to do in our lives when we approve taxes."
That is the primary reason Holt supports the removal of the tax on food and prescription drugs.
He said the current welfare program actually prohibits some Arkansas residents from obtaining and maintaining a job.
"We're keeping people in slavery (with low wages). They have to make ends meet," Holt said. "Then if they make too much (while on welfare) they can't continue with assistance so they quit their jobs. Then they come to think those checks are an entitlement."
"We wonder why we don't have higher paying jobs," he said. "I know that the people here need better jobs, jobs they can make a career out of."
Holt said he is the only Republican to work against school consolidation and was the only Republican against the No Child Left Behind Act.
"It's not right that the big government should be able to come in and shut down a local school," he said. "Democrats are some of our strongest supporters. I think if you want to fix education ask the teachers and the community."
Holt said he voted against pay raises for rural teachers because it should not be up to the state to dictate what local districts do.
"We have to get back where we trust the teacher," he said.
Holt's children, ages 5 months to 18 years, are homeschooled. He and his wife, Bobye, decided on the alternative education route when their oldest child was 5 years old.
The Holts lived in Maryland and an eighth grade student was murdered for his shoes near their home. The couple began researching options and found homeschooling might be a good fit. Homeschooling allows the children to accompany dad on his campaign tour and to keep the family together, Holt said.
Holt said he is proud he voted against a scholarship for illegal aliens. He said the reason he didn't vote for the scholarship is simply because of service -- a male American teen who attends college could be drafted in time of war but an illegal citizen would not. Also a company could not hire an illegal immigrant once his schooling is completed because it is unlawful to employ an illegal immigrant.
"Charity begins at home," Holt said. "We want to give that American dream for every American citizen, but we want to do it the legal way."
The scholarship made its way through the House with a 63-31 vote. The Senate killed it with a 16-18 vote. Holt has endorsements from many groups including five or six immigration reform groups, he said.
Holt joined the military in 1987. He served in the Army Joint Intelligence Operations at the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton. He served as watch officer, senior team manager, analyst and linguist. He was involved in classified operations during the Cold War, Operation Desert Storm and other military actions.
He said he was raised to be honest with oneself and others. At a young age he wanted to be an athlete or an astronaut. His eyes were too bad to be an astronaut and he wasn't always the best athlete so he decided on a new career in the military.
Holt said he doesn't receive large contributions from big corporations.
Holt was born in Camden and raised in northwest Arkansas.