Arkansas Lt. Governor Mark Darr (R) took his name off the short list for Governor in 2014 by announcing his endorsement of former Third District Congressman Asa Hutchinson.
Darr announced his choice in the upcoming race even though the field is far from closed.
“I have fielded many questions over the past few months from friends and supporters concerning the 2014 gubernatorial race,” said Darr. “I have received support and encouragement to run for this office and I am very humbled and appreciative. During this time, Kim and I have prayerfully considered this important decision. We have decided that this race is not the right choice for us at this time. I am happy to announce my support of my friend, Asa Hutchinson for Governor of our great state. I intend to do anything that Asa deems helpful to assist him in his race for our state’s highest office.”
Republican Curtis Coleman has also indicated he intends to seek the GOP nomination.
Darr had previously said that he was contemplating a run for Governor or U.S. Senate, but that he wouldn’t announce his intentions until after the current legislative session.
“In January, I said that I would be announcing my future plans formally, after the current legislative session’s completion, and I will do so,” Darr said.
Hutchinson responded with a note of appreciation.
“Mark Darr is the top elected Republican official in the state of Arkansas and his support for governor is deeply appreciated and gives our campaign an early boost. Mark’s leadership and endorsement will help unify our party as we seek the strongest candidate to win in 2014,” Hutchinson said.
“Mark has established himself as a vigorous campaigner and tireless advocate for Arkansas during his time in public service. There is no doubt that Mark has many opportunities to continue his path of public service and we are all interested in his future plans. Mark understands how to put the public good above his personal ambition and interests and his priority on the people first is understood and appreciated by the people of Arkansas,” Hutchinson added.
UPDATE: I sat down with Lt. Gov. Darr this afternoon to discuss his Hutchinson endorsement today.
Darr said his removal from running for the Governor’s office was one he was willing to make known.
“It’s always been an option, we felt like we just weren’t called to run for this office at this particular time,” said Darr, who made the decision with his wife, Kim. “I think it’s time for our party to unite and get behind the most qualified candidate on either side and get behind Asa Hutchinson for Governor in 2014.”
Does Darr think he made his endorsement too early since the field is not closed yet? He says no.
“I don’t think I jumped the gun at all. It’s not going to be an easy race to win,” Darr said.
He also adds that he’s decided on what he may do with his political future, which involves either Lt. Governor or a U.S. Senate run.
“I’m not trying to tease anybody with a big secret but I’ve pretty much made up my mind,” Darr said. “I fully intend to continue to serve the people of Arkansas and I’m excited about that opportunity. When Kim and I feel like it’s necessary [to tell] then we’ll do that.”
“I’d be honored to serve a Republican governor,” he added. “I think making a difference in D.C. is very attractive.”
Finally, Darr said he would reveal his plans by the end of the session, as previously promised. However, disclosure requirements could lead to an earlier tip.
You can listen to a podcast of our interview with Darr here or watch the video below.