Arkansas set for historic governor’s election in November
Race to replace Hutchinson between first female, person of color candidates in state’s history
[email protected] In it’s 186 year history, the State of Arkansas has had 57 governors. All of them have been white men.
That will change in just a few weeks when voters statewide head to the polls to cast their preference in the race to replace current and term-limited Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is nearing the end of his second four-year term.
Yes, for the first time ever, the top-two candidates for the governor’s seat are not white males. Republican candidate Sarah Sanders, of Hope, herself the daughter of former Governor Mike Huckabee, will be facing Democratic candidate Chris Jones, a Black man and Pine Bluff native who is an MIT graduate and nuclear engineer.
Recent polls show Sanders with leads between 7 and 12 percent. She has substantially outraised Jones in donations to her campaign.
Sanders was White House Press Secretary for nearly two years. She recently announced that she underwent successful surgery to address a thyroid cancer diagnosis.
Jones, former Executive Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, faces an uphill climb in a state that has grown increasingly “redder” in the past decade after years of Democratic domination.
No major party in Arkansas has ever nominated a woman or a person of color for the governor’s seat.
Regardless of the winner in November, that streak, one that has stood since 1835, will come to an end.
About Sarah Sanders
Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump from 2017 to 2019. A trusted confidant of the President, Sarah advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy. For two and a half years, Sarah worked closely with the president, battling with the media, working with lawmakers and CEOs, and accompanying the president on every foreign trip, including dozens of meetings with foreign leaders. Sarah is only the third woman – and the very first mom – to ever hold the job of White House Press Secretary.
Upon her departure from the administration, President Trump described Sarah as “irreplaceable,” a “warrior” and “very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job.”
Sarah joined the Trump campaign as a senior advisor in February 2016 during the Republican primary, and continued in that role through the President’s historic defeat of Hillary Clinton.
Sarah has previously worked in leadership roles for U.S. Senators, Governors, and presidential campaigns. In Arkansas, Sarah was a senior advisor to Senator Tom Cotton in 2014 when he defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Pryor, and was campaign manager for Senator John Boozman in 2010 when he defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln.
In 2007 and 2008, Sarah helped lead her father, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, to victory in the Iowa Caucuses and seven other states as his national political director.
Sarah served in the Department of Education during President George W. Bush‘s administration, and was campaign manager of the ONE campaign, a global non-profit founded by U2’s Bono to take action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
Sarah has been recognized in Fortune and TIME Magazine “40 under 40.”
She is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Speaking for Myself,” a former Fox News contributor, and serves on the Fulbright board.
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Photos courtesy of Ballotpedia ELECTION (cont.)
Sarah grew up in Pine Bluff and Texarkana, and is a proud graduate of Little Rock Central High and Ouachita Baptist University.
She lives in Little Rock with her husband, Bryan, their children Scarlett, Huck, and George, and their golden retriever, Traveler.
Like Sanders, the 2022 governor’s race is Jones’s first foray into seeking public office but he says life has prepared him for challenge of service and leadership “As a son of two preachers, I was raised with a strong sense of faith,” said Jones.
This faith has never collided with my love for science — in fact, it only made it grow stronger. I attended Morehouse College on a NASA Scholarship, for physics and math, then studied at MIT to become a nuclear engineer and earn a Ph.D. in urban planning. I was blessed to run the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, which provided the tools and technology Arkansans needed to build businesses and create jobs.”
Jones has traveled the state extensively to get his message out to the people of Arkansas.
“Our campaign is the most ambitious effort in history to reach Arkansas voters,” he said.. “By hitting the road to talk with voters in all 75 counties, our Promise of Arkansas tour set the table to launch an unprecedented voting movement in a state with some of the highest potential and highest stakes in the nation. We are committed to changing what it means to campaign in Arkansas, by listening and learning from all communities, by building an enduring and resilient grassroots campaign, and by sharing our vision – that Arkansas can realize its potential and reach its promise through faith, hope and hard work.” Jones calls this campaign The Promise of Arkansas.
“The Promise of Arkansas is the faith that together we can address our challenges,” he said.. “It is the hope that unified we make space for all Arkansans to live out our unique potential. It is the hard work of change in our souls and in our lives. The promise begins by spreading PB& J across the state—expanding preschool to all families, affordable broadband for every home, and economic development focused on creating high wage jobs.”
And while Sanders and Jones are far and away the two leading candidates for the governor’s seat, there are a number of third-party candidates on the ballot including Libertarian Rickey Dale Harrington Jr. and four write-in candidates: Dan Nelson, Elvis D. Presley, Jason Tate and Michael Woodard.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.