Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump‘s former chief spokeswoman and one of his closest aides, is reportedly running for Arkansas governor, sources say.
- Ms Sanders was tipped to run for Arkansas governor by Mr Trump after she left the White House
- The state’s current Governor is a Republican who cannot run again due to a two-term rule
- Voters will decide the state’s new Governor in November next year
A senior campaign official told The Associated Press (AP) Ms Sanders planned to announce her bid on Monday, local time.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly ahead of the formal announcement
Ms Sanders, who left the role as White House press secretary in 2019, is launching her bid less than a week after the end of Mr Trump‘s presidency and as the ex-president faces an impeachment trial
Arkansas has a strong Republican support base, with the state’s six electoral college votes going to Mr Trump in the presidential election.
Republicans hold all of Arkansas’s statewide and federal seats, as well as a solid majority in both chambers of the Legislature.
The state’s current governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson, has been in the job since 2015 and cannot be elected again due to the state’s two-term rules.
But the vote will not be held until November 6, 2022.
Trump encouraged Sanders to run
Ms Sanders is the daughter of former Governor Mike Huckabee, and has been widely expected to run for the office after leaving the White House.
Mr Trump publicly encouraged her to run for the position when she resigned as press secretary in 2019.
“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,” he said on Twitter at the time.
Ms Sanders has been speaking to Republican groups around the state, laying the groundwork for a candidacy.
She and her husband launched the Arkansas 30 Day Fund, which aimed to help small businesses in the state cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“President Joe Biden‘s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline will kill many good jobs in Arkansas,” she posted on Twitter.
“The radical left is now running the show in Washington and hardworking Americans are paying the price.”
She joins an expensive Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney-General Leslie Rutledge.
However, Ms Sanders enters the race with a much higher profile than her opponents, having last year published a book and joined Fox News as a contributor.
But she remains an unknown on many of the state’s biggest issues and has said she doesn’t want to distract from Hutchinson’s agenda.
No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat yet.