Former Lt. Governor Bill Halter (D) made press rounds today to discuss his bid for Arkansas Governor in 2014.
Halter announced more than a week ago – on the day that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) bowed out due to an extramarital scandal – that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Governor next year.
Halter, who also challenged incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the 2010 Democratic primary, said he’s focused on education and economic development – two platform planks that current Gov. Mike Beebe (D) has stressed during his two terms.
“What’s going to determine Arkansas’ ability to compete long-term really boils down to education and training levels of our people,” Halter said. “If you look back at the scholarship lottery, that was our first major initiative designed to improve the educational attainment and skill level of our workforce in a dramatic way. You can certainly expect our campaign to focus on that.”
Halter declined to provide specific policy proposals in today’s interview, saying that ideas would be forthcoming in the next several months.
“We clearly need as a state to have access to capital markets at all levels of development of companies. We certainly need to make sure we continue our progress in education,” he added.
He also said he would continue to champion ethics reforms, such as his support for a citizen-led initiative that failed to make the ballot in 2012.
On the Medicaid and health care reform debate taking place in the current legislative session, Halter said he’s hopeful that the Beebe administration and Republican legislators can provide a “dramatic expansion of health care and improvement of health care in Arkansas that is possible.”
He said hospitals and health care providers would be disappointed and hurt economically if more funding does not materialize.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me to not take advantage of these federal dollars that are available, this expansion in the early years,” said Halter. “To not take advantage of those resources when other states are going to… to me would be a bad outcome.”
Halter said he’s getting a “tremendous” amount of support and encouragement to run for Governor. He declined to give a dollar figure on what he thought it would cost to make a gubernatorial bid, but he did say
“In our previous races, we were able to raise the resources that we needed to successfully run those races, and I feel the same way here,” Halter said.
Halter also said his decision to run was not based on who may or may not enter the 2014 campaign.
“Other folks are going to make their decisions and that is as it should be,” said Halter. “I have never and I don’t plan to make a decision on whether to get in a race based on who else is either in or could be in. I think people want their leaders to determine whether or not they can make a contribution, to determine what policies are best for the state, and then run their campaigns on those ideas.”