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State lawmaker on leaving GOP: 'Overturning free elections ... goes down hard with me'

Arkansas State Sen. Jim Hendren (I), who recently announced he would leave the Republican Party, said early Tuesday that the “final straw” for him was Republican senators “trying to overturn a free election.”

“As a guy who spent years in the military, overturning free elections is something that goes down hard with me,” Hendren said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And when I saw 11 senators, a member of the congressional delegation from Arkansas leading ‘Stop the Steal’ rallies, convincing people that the election had been stolen, which led directly to the insurrection on January 6, I said I can no longer be part of an organization that does that.”

Hendren specifically named Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyOn The Money: Democrats scramble to save minimum wage hike | Personal incomes rise, inflation stays low after stimulus burst Democrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike Hawley gets boisterous ovation at CPAC for Electoral College objection   MORE (R-Mo.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTomi Lahren says CPAC attendees clearly want Trump to run in 2024 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation | House passes major public lands package | Biden administration won't defend Trump-era relaxation of bird protections Cruz hits back at Boehner for telling him to 'go f--- yourself' MORE (R-Texas), both of whom objected to President BidenJoe BidenHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike Biden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot MORE’s Electoral College victory in key states.

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Only one member of Arkansas’s congressional delegation, Rep. Rick CrawfordRick CrawfordState lawmaker on leaving GOP: 'Overturning free elections ... goes down hard with me' READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture MORE (R), objected to the certification of Biden’s victory. Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonDemocrats scramble to rescue minimum wage hike Cotton defends call for Insurrection Act, assails 'child mob' at NYT Golden statue of Trump at CPAC ridiculed online MORE (R-Ark.), who, like Hawley and Cruz, is considered a 2024 GOP presidential contender, was one of the highest-profile Republican senators to announce he would not support the challenge.

Supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to hold virtual bilateral meeting with Mexican president More than 300 charged in connection to Capitol riot Trump Jr.: There are 'plenty' of GOP incumbents who should be challenged MORE stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to finalize Biden's win. The House impeached Trump for his role in the deadly riot, and he was later acquitted in a Senate trial.

Hendren, an Air National Guard veteran, also said Tuesday that he had been disillusioned with the Republican Party over Trump’s foreign policy, citing the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria.

“When I saw one phone call from [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan to Trump allow us to completely abandon one of the bravest and best allies I have ever seen, some of the best fighters to help us win that battle against ISIS, the Kurds … I went on statewide TV … and said this is despicable, we do not treat our allies that way,” he said on MSNBC.