Gov. Asa Hutchinson easily won the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term Tuesday after the Associated Press called the race less than an hour after polls closed.
Hutchinson led challenger Jan Morgan, 70-30% early in the evening and the final vote tally neared those percentages, according to unofficial results.
On the Democratic Party side, Jared Henderson of Little Rock, the former executive director for Teach for America’s Arkansas region, was declared the winner over Leticia Sanders, 64%-36% based on preliminary results.
Speaking to supporters, Hutchinson said the race was not “just about the candidate for governor, but this race has also been about the soul of the Republican Party, and I am very pleased that the Republican voters of Arkansas chose hope and optimism for our future.” Hutchinson pointed out that this is his fifth statewide campaign.
“I know Arkansas, and Arkansas knows me,” he said. “There are no surprises. In fact, I am probably the only candidate in America to have been endorsed by both Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump.”
He said he would differentiate himself from Henderson, saying Henderson opposes Hutchinson’s proposed income tax reduction and a work requirement for recipients of the state’s Arkansas Works Medicaid expansion program.
Independence County minister and corporate office manager Mark West is the Libertarian Party nominee.
Morgan had hoped to position herself as an outsider candidate in the vein of President Donald Trump, calling Hutchinson an establishment progressive. She said she would not endorse him if he won the primary and refused to appear with him during a Republican Party event in Benton on May 3.
But she couldn’t overcome Hutchinson’s incumbency, job approval ratings or overwhelming fundraising advantage. The governor had raised $2.3 million for the primary as of May 12 and another $660,000 for the general election as of April 30. In comparison, Morgan raised $144,000. On Monday, President Trump tweeted his endorsement of Hutchinson.
Morgan conceded the race publicly immediately following Hutchinson’s speech, saying her campaign had “put up a good fight” and “laid the foundation of a liberty machine.” She pledged to continue to be a citizen activist. She did not say if she would support Hutchinson’s candidacy.
Among the Democrats, Henderson had raised $220,000 for the primary, while Sanders raised $2,575 along with another $9,900 in loans.
With 97% of precincts reporting statewide, the Secretary of State’s web site provided these results:
Gov. Asa Hutchinson: 69.23%
Jan Morgan: 30.77%
Jared Henderson: 63.52%
Leticia Sanders: 36.48%
Secretary of State
Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston (R): 51.20%
State Rep. Trevor Drown (R): 48.80%