MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Former Trump White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has joined the race for Arkansas governor.
Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, announced her candidacy in a video Monday morning.
“Today I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas and ask for your prayers and your support,” Sanders said during a seven-minute video aimed at Republican primary voters.
Sanders explained why she’s running for governor of her home state.
“Everything we love about America is at stake and with the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense,” Sanders said.
Sanders served as the Trump White House Press Secretary from 2017 to 2019.
Her tenured was marked by controversy and clashes with White House reporters.
Since stepping down in 2019, it had been rumored she would run for governor.
Her father, Mike Huckabee, served as Arkansas governor for over 10 years.
WMC political analyst Mike Nelson said her father and her close ties to Trump should be an asset for Sanders.
But he said being a candidate will be a different experience.
“She’s never been a candidate before and running for office always tests qualities that if you haven’t done it before are going to be tested for the first time,” said Nelson.
Two other major Republicans running for Arkansas governor are Lt. Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
They welcomed Sanders to the race but immediately tried to set themselves apart.
“The big difference with me is I have the experience to be governor on day one,” said Griffin. “I won’t need training wheels.”
Griffin also seized on a comment Sanders made in her announcement about her intention to ban sanctuary cities as governor.
“We all value Sarah Sanders’ political work in Washington and appreciate her. I welcome her to the race for Governor, and am glad that she’s back in Little Rock. Her pledge to ban sanctuary cities would have been a great line in a speech in 2019, but not in 2021. It sounds like she needs to catch up on what’s been going on in Arkansas,” said Griffin.
Rutledge said she considered Sanders and her family as friends and said they would remain friends after the campaign.
But she too brought up questions about Sanders’ experience fighting for people in Arkansas.
“This campaign to be the next governor of the state of Arkansas is going to come down to who can lead us in challenging times in a pandemic and who has the proven experience,” said Rutledge.
The Arkansas Democratic Party also released a statement on the decision of Sanders to jump into the race.
“Sarah Sanders’s only qualification is being part of the most dishonest administration in American history. Arkansas can do better. Arkansas will do better,” the statement read.