Republican businessman Curtis Coleman announced today (Feb. 4) that he will seek his party’s nomination for governor in 2014.

In a phone call to The City Wire on Monday, Coleman said he always intended to announce a bid for governor, though Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s recent withdrawal from the Democratic primary after admitting an extramarital affair quickly followed by Bill Halter’s entry in the Democratic primary changed the timing of his announcement.

“We accelerated the official declaration because of the recent events on the Democratic side,” he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson has also announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

Coleman, the founding president and CEO of Safe Foods Corporation in North Little Rock, said there were several issues that led to his entrance to the race.

“I have been studying the economy of Arkansas for several years now and I’m convinced that Arkansas can be one of the most prosperous states in the nation,” he said.

The founder of The Institute for Constitutional Policy added that he believed in order to make Arkansas among the most prosperous states in America, the state’s tax structure must be reformed.

“We have one of the highest personal income tax rates and one of the highest corporate tax rates anywhere in the nation,” Coleman explained.

To adjust the tax structure, Coleman said it would take many years. But he added that reforming the tax structure could happen over time.

Eventually, he would like to see the elimination of the personal income tax and the introduction of an alternative tax structure, such as a flat-rate sales tax.

Coleman said he would also like to see an improvement in the state’s education system, as well.

“I think we need to move public education from a government monopoly to a free market economy, where parents choose where their children go to school and money follows the parent’s choice,” he said. “It lets the schools that are achieving and accomplishing grow stronger.”

Drawing a contrast between himself and Hutchinson, Coleman said he was not a Washington insider.

“I’ve been involved in Arkansas business and Arkansas politics,” he said. “I’m in touch with the pulse of Arkansans.”

Coleman would not disclose how much money he had raised for his bid for governor, though he said he was prepared to invest his own money in the campaign, if needed.

“I plan to depend on private donations,” he said. “If the need arises for me to invest personal funds in the campaign, then I’ll make the decision at that point with consultation with my family.”

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