President Donald Trump’s former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is eyeing a run for the Governor of Arkansas, a position her father Mike Huckabee served for more than a decade.
Although she hasn’t officially announced a bid yet, Sanders’ recent political activities and interviews suggest she’s gearing up to secure the Republican nomination by attending Republican Party dinners around Arkansas, the Associated Press reported.
Sanders’ recent activities include attending a 500-person GOP event, the Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner in Hot Beds, Ark. Sander has expressed interest in the governorship but has avoided an official announcement for the job, which would become available in 2023, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson reaches his term limit.
“I’m just excited to have people clap when I come up to a podium,” she said, according to a New York Times report of the dinner. The comment appeared as a reference to her previous role as White House Press Secretary, where she at times traded barbs with members of the press corps. “It’s very different from what I’m used to. All I can say is thank God I’m back in Arkansas.”
While she hasn’t officially made an announcement to run, she does have a website that touts her time as Press Secretary and appears not unlike a campaign page.
“There are two types of people who run for office. People that are called and people that just want to be a senator or governor,” Sanders said at a diner in downtown Little Rock last week. “I feel like I’ve been called.”
President Trump appeared to endorse Sanders’ political prospects in a tweet announcing her departure from the White House. Trump said, “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic.”
….She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
“It’s the role I’ve been pushed into,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to do that if I wasn’t the right person to fit what the state needed at that time.”
For the time being, Sander seems to be straying away from an announcement. She avoided state politics at the dinner, such as a Medicare expansion that has divided state Republicans.
“It’s time to let the governor do his job and I don’t think it’s helpful for me to try to play a game from the side. That doesn’t help him. That doesn’t help the state,” she said.
Longtime Arkansas governor-hopeful Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said in August that he is running for the gubernatorial election.
Other potential candidates include Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and state Senate President Jim Hendren, who is the current governor’s nephew. Not one Democrat has announced a run for the role.
“Probably the biggest thing she has is 100 percent name ID and that’s so difficult to obtain,” said Sen. John Boozman, whose 2010 campaign Sanders managed. “I think almost every Arkansan knows who Sarah Huckabee Sanders is.”
With the name-recognition she has, constituents are already showing her support.
“The main thing I like about her is her honesty,” said Carla Shelton, a small-business owner who brought her daughter to hear Sanders speak. “She got a bad rap because people are offended that she does tell the truth. I’m 100 percent behind her.”
It isn’t known when she will make an official announcement, but her husband, Brian Sanders, gave her a deadline.
“You have to make a decision by Labor Day of 2021,” he said. “She has a unique coalition. It’s not just Trump voters. It’s evangelicals because of her dad. It’s women.”