Trump-endorsed Sarah Sanders wins GOP primary to be next governor of Arkansas

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced in January 2021 that she intended to run for governor in her home state of Arkansas, a position her father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), held from 1996 to 2007.

The state held its primary elections on Tuesday and Sanders, who had received a strong endorsement from former President Donald Trump, easily won the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Fox News reported.

In truth, there was never really any doubt that Sanders would win the nomination as several other potential candidates who might have posed a challenge had instead dropped out of the race and announced runs for other state offices once she entered the contest.

No questions about final results

According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, and with more than 97 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders garnered nearly 288,000 votes, or about 83 percent of all ballots cast in the race, to win the GOP nomination to replace outgoing and term-limited incumbent Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R).

Her only other competitor in the primary race, former local conservative talk radio host Francis “Doc” Washburn, who now hosts a national podcast, received only about 53,000 votes, or less than 17 percent of all ballots cast.

The two other potential candidates who had initially announced gubernatorial runs but ultimately stepped aside to clear the path for Sanders — Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin (R) and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) — both saw success in their own runs to essentially swap positions, with Griffin winning the Attorney General nomination and Rutledge winning the Lt. Gov. nomination.

Sanders’ Democratic opponent in November, according to the election results, will be Chris Jones, who received more than 66,000 votes, or around 70 percent of the more than 94,000 total votes cast, in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

Big disparity in fundraising

According to Fox News, Sanders has raised almost $15 million for her campaign since she first announced her run more than a year ago, spent more than $838,000 in April, and reportedly still has approximately $7 million in cash on hand that will now go toward winning the general election in November.

Her Democratic opponent Jones, however, has reportedly only raised about $1.8 million overall and only has about $108,000 in cash on hand. He is said to have raised more than $161,000 in April but turned around and spent around $147,000 that same month.

Part of the reason for the incredible fundraising success experienced by Sanders is the remaining popularity of her father among some Republican voters in the state, but more so than that was the endorsement she had received last year from her former boss Trump.

The Trump endorsement

The former president reiterated that endorsement Tuesday and said via a statement from his Save America PAC that “Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a Warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct.”

“Sarah is strong on Borders, tough on Crime, and fully supports the Second Amendment and our great law enforcement officers. She loves our Military and Veterans — and her home state of Arkansas. Sarah will be a GREAT Governor, and she has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump added.

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