Will the ghost of Willie Horton haunt the campaign trail of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee? That’s the question asked by Reuters, recalling the case of the inmate furloughed in 1986 by Massachusetts Gov. and future Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Huckabee’s -ex inmate is Wayne Dumond, who was serving a life prison term for raping a 17-year-old cheerleader in Arkansas when his appeals for clemency attracted the attention of Huckabee, a Baptist preacher, after the inmate was said to have found religion. Dumond was released by the state’s parole board — with Huckabee’s endorsement — and later killed a woman in Kansas City.
On Monday, Huckabee told Fox News that it was the parole board, made up of appointees from Democratic Govs. Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker — that made the decision to free Dumond. “Should this guy have been let out in retrospect? No. But at the time, the parole board in making the decision to let him go, felt it was a prudent decision to make,” Huckabee said. Former state Rep. Pat Flanagin, a Democrat, said Huckabee pressured the parole board to free Dumond despite a personal protest from his rape victim. Political scientist Stephen Hess said it is up to Huckabee to explain what happened. “Given that he acted after Dukakis and Willie Horton, you would think that he would be even more sensitive to this in political terms,” Hess said.