There’s another possible entrant into the 2018 Congressional race in central Arkansas. Natashia Burch Hulsey tells KUAR she plans to submit paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office Thursday afternoon, to launch an exploratory committee as an Independent.
Earlier this week, Paul Spencer began preparing for a bid as a Democrat to unseat Republican incumbent French Hill.
Hulsey is a retired Air Force photographer, a one-time co-owner of a vegan catering service, and is preparing for UAMS’s Health Promotion and Prevention Research PhD program while finishing a master’s degree in communications at UA Little Rock. Addressing food insecurity in Arkansas – a state that leads in both agriculture and hunger – is a top priority for Hulsey. She used to co-own a vegan catering company, That’s So Raw, in Jacksonville.
Hulsey said she’d discussed running with the Libertarian Party but didn’t align closely enough with Presidential candidate Gary Johnson. She said Democrats encouraged her to run for a smaller, local office first. She voted for Jill Stein but the Green Party of Arkansas didn't field a single state candidate last election. And Hulsey said the GOP in the Trump era has began to alienate her.
“I’ve always kind of been more of a Republican but lately with a lot of things that the Republican Party is doing I can’t in good conscience side with them. I’ve never really seen myself as a staunch Democrat either,” she said. “Now I kind of find myself in the middle of the two.”
While she hopes to unseat second-term Congressman French Hill, Hulsey says it’s not her only objective. She wants to raise awareness about healthy living and community groups.
“This is something that I feel like I was predestined to do. That’s why I say win or lose I’m going to be right where I’m supposed to be. My end goal is just to bring attention to these organizations so even if I don’t win organizations could win,” she said.
Hulsey said she hasn’t been too politically active in a conventional sense. She said she’s mostly “been in the background” but that she views her work in catering as a foray into direct activism, “to us that was a form of activism because we wanted to fight food disparity, food insecurity, and food deserts.”
She also volunteered with the Save Our Schools campaign that calls for a return to a democratically elected school board for the Little Rock School District. Hulsey’s Facebook page contains several anti-GOP memes that target Attorney General Jeff Sessions for alleged racism and President Trump. She also links to articles blasting Rep. Hill for voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Hulsey said Congress should work within the existing framework of the ACA for improvements though she accuses Democratic lawmakers of not reading the bill before it passed.
She said on many so-called values issues she leans Republican. But she’s not without about-face caveats, “I’ve always been raised to believe that same-sex marriage is not of God but I find myself in a very interesting situation because I have been in relationships with women,” she said. “So I can see both sides of the spectrum.”