Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s longtime spokesman J.R. Davis is leaving his role as communications director for a private sector job. He will be replaced by Katie Beck, currently Hutchinson’s aide for state and federal relations.
Davis will leave the post at the end of this month.
“J.R. has been a key member of my team since the first day of my administration,” Governor Hutchinson said. “He is an extremely talented communicator, a trusted counselor, and a friend. I have been impressed with his leadership and work with the media, and I am grateful to have had him on my team for the past five years. I wish him all the best as he uses his talent to pursue new opportunities in the private sector.”
“In her various roles over the past five years, Katie has earned my complete confidence that she can handle anything that comes her way,” Hutchinson added. “Katie served on my 2014 campaign for governor, and she has served in my administration since day one. Her years with me as a candidate and as governor will inform her ability to speak for me to the press and the public. Katie has a background in communications, law, and federal-state relations, and I have no doubt that her experience in these areas will be an incredible asset as my new communications director.”
Talk Business & Politics has learned that Davis will work for Gilmore Strategy Group, a government relations, opinion research and political campaign firm based in Little Rock and Washington, D.C. Partner Jon Gilmore, a former deputy chief of staff to Hutchinson, was also the governor’s primary campaign consultant in 2018 and partner Rett Hatcher worked for the Hutchinson administration.
Davis said he will not lobby in order to comply with state ethics requirements. He said he will serve as a senior strategist working with a number of corporate clients and political campaigns.
Davis is a former news anchor in Northwest Arkansas and also served as communications director for Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers.
“Jon and Rett have quickly established Gilmore Strategy Group as one of the premier consulting firms in the state. Having worked with both of them in Governor Hutchinson’s office, this comes as no surprise to me. Their work ethic and political acumen have served their clients well, and I hope to build on that reputation,” Davis said. “On a personal note, it has been an honor to serve as Governor Hutchinson’s communications director and spokesperson for the last five years. I will forever be grateful to the Governor for his confidence, his counsel, and above all, his friendship through it all.”
“I’m delighted today to announce J.R. Davis as a Senior Strategist in our firm,” said Gilmore. “J.R. and I first met when he joined the staff of Governor Hutchinson’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign and we became close friends. We have worked in various roles together, and it was a natural fit to continue working alongside each other now in the private sector. There is no better communications and messaging expert in the South than J.R. Davis and he will bring a unique perspective to our practice. I’m delighted to build this firm with Rett and J.R. for many years to come.”
Beck has served as Hutchinson’s director of state and federal relations since 2015. She holds a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law and has degrees in history and broadcast journalism from the University of Arkansas.
“I am humbled and excited to continue serving in Governor Hutchinson’s administration as his communications director. Working for the people of Arkansas in Washington, D.C., has been an incredible honor, and I am grateful for the opportunity to return home to lead the Governor’s talented communications team. I appreciate the Governor’s confidence, and I look forward to continuing my service in his administration,” Beck said.