MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The election for governor of Arkansas is still a long way away but a big name has just joined the race.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her candidacy in a video Monday morning.
“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,” said Sanders.
The daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee served as chief spokesperson for the Trump White House for two years.
WMC Political Analyst Mike Nelson said she will have obvious advantages in a Republican primary.
“Her father was a very popular governor, who made a very serious run for the Republican presidential nomination and then the association that she had as President Trump’s press secretary will certainly stand her in good stead with Republican voters in Arkansas,” said Nelson. “I think she’s a very strong candidate for governor.”
But two other major figures in Arkansas politics are her opponents for the Republican nomination, Lt. Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
They told WMC Action News 5 they welcome Sanders to the race and admire her work for former President Trump.
But they said they have what she doesn’t: experience.
“If you’re looking for someone with experience, I’m your candidate,” said Griffin. “If you’re looking for someone who is just better known because they’ve been on TV a lot, that’s not me. But I can tell you by the time this election occurs in a year and a half, everybody’s going to know all the candidates.”
Griffin also seized on a comment Sanders made in her announcement video about her intention to ban sanctuary cities if elected governor.
“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, noting that Arkansas has already banned sanctuary cities.
Although he said Sanders would make a great governor, it’s unclear if former President Trump will endorse anyone.
Rutledge said she’s not worried about that.
She said the race will come down to who Arkansans know and trust.
“My husband’s a row crop farmer in Crittenden County, so we’ve got friends and family across the state. Whether it’s Marion or Menifee or wherever across the state of Arkansas, I’ve been to those towns,” said Rutledge. “I think to me, that’s the most important thing, are the over three million Arkansans who are going to be impacted by having a governor with the experience to lead and proven accomplishments.”
The Arkansas Democratic Party also released a statement.
“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.
Incumbent Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison is term-limited, so he can’t run again.
The Arkansas Republican Primary will take place in May of 2022.