LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Sarah Sanders is ready to make the leap from donald trump‘s spokesman for the governor of Arkansas on Tuesday choicehoping to reclaim the position her father once held and become the first woman to lead the state.
The former White House press secretary and Republican candidate is heavily favored in the gubernatorial race in her home state, where Trump remains popular with conservatives.
Democratic candidate Chris Jones, an ordained Baptist minister and nuclear engineer, has trailed Sanders by double digits in public polls ahead of Tuesday’s election. Sanders has broken fundraising records in the state since he launched his campaign last year. Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington is also running.
Jones or Harrington would also make history if either wins by being the first African-American Arkansas has ever elected to state or congressional office.
If he wins, Sanders will become Trump’s highest-profile official in elected office at a time when the president’s influence in the Republican Party is seen in several high-profile races across the country.
They are running to succeed Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election. Hutchinson, who has endorsed Sanders, is considering running for president and has often parted ways with Trump.
Sanders has proudly nationalized his candidacy, with ads promising to use the state’s main office to fight the president. Joe Biden and the “radical left”. He has largely avoided interviews with local reporters during his campaign, but has appeared frequently on Fox News.
He promised to continue cutting the state’s income tax, after a series of reductions enacted by Hutchinson and Republican lawmakers in recent years. But he has not detailed a timetable for doing so or how he would make up for lost revenue.
Sanders entered the race as the most nationally recognized gubernatorial candidate the state has ever had, after years of defending Trump’s policies on television and being lampooned by “Saturday Night Live.”
Trump publicly encouraged Sanders to run for governor when she left the White House in 2019 to return to her home state.
During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure in the White House, she cut back on daily televised briefings after repeatedly arguing with reporters who aggressively questioned her. She faced questions about his credibility, particularly after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed that Sanders admitted to making an unsubstantiated claim to reporters about FBI agents’ reaction to the director. james comeyis shooting. But he also earned the respect of reporters by working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media.
Sanders was a well-known figure in Arkansas long before Trump. He appeared in ads for his father, former Governor Mike Huckabee, a two-time presidential candidate and frequent political commentator, and worked on his campaigns. She ran the election of Senator John Boozman in 2010 and served as an advisor to Senator Tom Cotton in 2014.
Sanders briefly dropped out of the campaign trail in September after undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer. His doctor said Sanders was cancer-free after the surgery.
Jones has tried to contrast himself with Sanders, presenting himself as a more unifying figure than the former Trump official. He has run with promises to expand preschool access and broadband in the state.
Jones entered the race with an online video that quickly went viral and won the endorsement of national figures, including California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Other former Trump officials who have been elected to the role include Ronny Jackson, Trump’s former White House physician, who was elected to a Texas congressional seat in 2020. Karoline Leavitt, a former staffer at the White House under Trump, running for a seat in Congress. in New Hampshire.
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