Former Arkansas Innovation Hub executive director Chris Jones announced his intentions Tuesday (June 15) to seek the Democratic nomination for Arkansas governor in 2022. He opened his campaign in his native town of Pine Bluff and in a launch video released on social media.
“The last few years have shown how much political division can tear us apart. The reality of this moment in our nation’s history is that if we want our politics to be different, we have to be different. Other candidates may try to divide us in this election. But I’m not running for governor to fight a culture war or to go on cable news. I’m here to bring Arkansans back together with a campaign that brings out our best,” he said.
Touting himself as a physicist and an ordained minister, Jones said, “After the pandemic, we’re ready for a real recovery. One that reaches every community. We want life to get back to normal, but not a return to the status quo. We want new goals, new possibilities, and new leadership that doesn’t shy away from challenges, and instead, dares to dream big.”
Jones, 44, said he grew up eating honeysuckle and riding dirt bikes in Pine Bluff. Jones holds five degrees including bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from Morehouse College; master’s degrees in nuclear engineering and technology and policy, and a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“My family was here before Arkansas became a territory in 1819. I am a preacher’s kid and my parents were also educators and entrepreneurs. Despite the fact that my grandparents only had a 3rd grade education and we were in a constant state of financial stress, my parents were crystal-clear that getting an education and serving others was a must.”
Jones’ brother, Leon Jones, announced earlier this year that he would pursue the GOP nomination for Arkansas Attorney General.
As the director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, Chris Jones developed programs that address social inequities, reached under served communities in every corner of the state, and inspired innovation and entrepreneurship, he said.
He also said his efforts at the helm of the Hub supported small business owners across the state and provided job training to support access to the workforce. Among several other programs he led, he also helped students develop technical skills, receive mentorships, and increase literacy. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones organized a team of more than 260 Arkansas makers to help make and supply critically needed PPE.
“I’m in this race because Arkansas needs a governor focused on solutions, not politics. I’m in this race to rebuild our infrastructure, to invest in healthcare and education, to extend access to rural broadband, and to give Arkansans the tools we need to compete,” he said. “I’m running because we want a governor focused on healthy families and thriving neighborhoods – not what’s happening in Washington. I’m in this race because the people of Arkansas deserve a voice and a governor who will listen.”
Three other Democrats have announced for Arkansas Governor. They are Anthony Bland, James “Rus” Russell, and Supha Xayprasith-Mays. Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington has also said he plans to run for governor. The two announced Republican candidates for governor are Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
Jones is married to Dr. Jerrilyn Jones, an ER doctor, and has three daughters.
You can watch his campaign announcement video below.