LITTLE ROCK — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross on Wednesday touted his support from black leaders, including the entire membership of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus.

LITTLE ROCK — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross on Wednesday touted his support from black leaders, including the entire membership of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus.


His Republican opponent, Asa Hutchinson, noted that the caucus is made up of Democrats and said he has been reaching out to minorities throughout the campaign.


"I’m honored and grateful to be surrounded by so many friends and so many strong, dedicated and passionate leaders who truly care about the future of Arkansas and represent the heart and soul of our great state," Ross said during a news conference in Little Rock where he was joined by members of the Legislative Black Caucus and several black religious and civic leaders.


The former 4th District congressman said that while campaigning across the state "I’ve heard your hopes, your dreams. I’ve learned a lot, and I want you to know that I will take those stories, those hopes, those dreams with me to the governor’s office."


He also pledged that if elected he would turn to black leaders for guidance and would oppose any effort to require voters to show photo identification at the polls.


Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s voter ID law, which critics said was unfair to poor, elderly and minorities and supporters said prevented voter fraud.


"I will veto any law to make it more difficult for people to vote in Arkansas," Ross said.


Rep. Fred Love, D-Little Rock, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said Ross is committed to making pre-kindergarten education accessible to every 4-year-old in the state, making college more affordable, helping Arkansans gain job skills, reducing domestic violence and child abuse, stopping violence in the black community and growing the black business community.


"Mike Ross is committed to our future," Love said.


Ross noted that Hutchinson said last week, "I don’t think there’s necessarily women’s issues."


"Despite pay inequity, despite women facing higher incidents of domestic violence, despite women facing unique health care challenges and despite the fact that women are more likely to be single parents, it is shockingly out of touch for Asa Hutchinson to say there isn’t such a thing as, quote, ‘women’s issues,’" Ross said.


Hutchinson, a former 3rd District congressman, said Wednesday that Ross "has a way of mischaracterizing everything that I say."


"What I said is that if you’re talking about economic issues and job creation, economic growth, lower taxes, these are issues that impact women, men, everyone. I think that’s an issue that crosses every line and appeals to women," he said.


Hutchinson spoke to reporters after participating at a rally in Little Rock for Republican candidates. During the rally, he told the crowd of about 100 people he was pleased to receive an endorsement from Pine Bluff native Torii Hunter of the Detroit Tigers.


"We have expanded and not just taken for granted our traditional base but we’ve worked in the minority community, saying the Republican Party and our candidates are open to those that are minority, those that may have not been traditionally participating in the Republican Party," he said.


Talking later to reporters, Hutchinson noted that he named Leon Jones of Pine Bluff his minority outreach coordinator a year and a half ago and has held a number of events in communities with large minority populations.


"This is not something that’s happened in the last three weeks of the campaign. We’ve been working on this for 18 months," he said. "And I recognize that … the African-American legislators are Democrats. That’s the tradition in Arkansas, and we’re sort of swimming upstream. But it makes a difference in an election and it’s the right thing to do. I’ve made it clear I want to have a government and administration that reflects the people of Arkansas and the diversity of Arkansas."


Regarding the possibility of reinstating the voter ID law, Hutchinson said, "I support voter ID. Let’s look at it and see what avenues are open. I’d be glad to work with the Legislature on that."​