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LITTLE ROCK — A longtime Arkansas legislator and nephew of the state's Republican governor said Thursday that he's leaving the GOP, citing Donald Trump's rhetoric and the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol by the former president's supporters.

State Sen. Jim Hendren's announcement closes the door on him seeking the party's nomination for governor next year, but he said he hasn't ruled out the possibility of running as an independent. Hendren said that decision is on the "back burner" as he focuses on an organization he formed aimed at helping independent candidates.

Hendren, the nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, had been more willing than other Republican figures in the state to criticize Trump. In a nine-minute video announcing his decision, he cited Trump's insults about immigrants, women, and John McCain, as well as his false attacks on the election's legitimacy leading up to the Jan. 6 riot.

"For me, that day was the final straw," Hendren said. "I asked myself, what in the world would I tell my grandchildren when they ask one day, what happened and what did I do about it?"

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