Democratic Lt. Governor candidate John Burkhalter has one message for voters and he’s sure to repeat it non-stop between now and November 2014.
“I think we need to create jobs,” Burkhalter said in a Talk Business interview on Sunday night.
Burkhalter is the only announced Democratic candidate for the state’s No. 2 post. Republican Reps. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Andy Mayberry (R-Hensley) have both said they will seek the GOP nomination. Current Lt. Governor Mark Darr remains undecided about his political future.
An engineer by training and an inventor by nature, Burkhalter has an engineering and construction company and is also active in real estate. He is a past member of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and currently serves as an appointee on the Arkansas Highway Commission.
“I’ve had the opportunity to sell my technology around the world, and I’ve traveled a lot, and I’ve traded a lot overseas. I’m willing to get on a plane or a train anywhere in the world to help bring those businesses to Arkansas because we’re not just competing against our state and other states, we’re competing against the world,” he said.
Burkhalter said he considered a run for Arkansas Governor, but after conversations with former Democratic Cong. Mike Ross, who re-entered the race earlier this year, Burkhalter decided to shift to the Lt. Governor’s race. Now, Ross and Burkhalter are running as a ticket, having both endorsed each other this spring.
“Mike and I have been friends for a long time,” Burkhalter said. “I think Mike and I will work great together as a team.”
Ross has said that, if elected, Burkhalter will lead an effort between cabinet-level agency directors to better coordinate job recruiting activities. What if Burkhalter is elected and Ross isn’t?
“I will approach that position, that job no different. I will be vocal. I will be sure that anyone and everyone knows what I think we need to do,” said Burkhalter. “I will make sure the next Governor, whoever that may be, understands how important job creation – real job creation – and educating our people and preparing them for that. I believe that anybody who is Governor is going to want to listen and work together. We’re all Arkansans, we’re all in this together. We all need to be pulling on the same end of this rope.”
You can watch Burkhalter’s full interview below.