First day of filing period brings out candidates for top offices

by Marine Glisovic ([email protected]) 1,246 views 

The 2022 Arkansas candidate filing period officially kicked off on Tuesday (Feb.22) at the state capitol. It was a full house where hundreds gathered in the rotunda to file for U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate, state House and Senate seats, and statewide constitutional offices.

One of the biggest races in 2022 will be the race for Arkansas governor. Gov. Asa Hutchinson is term-limited and several candidates filed on Tuesday to replace him. Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders officially filed her candidacy for governor of Arkansas, saying she wanted to get her name on the ballot on day one.

“I wanted to get out on there and file right away. We have been on the road non-stop and have a pretty full week still ahead,” she said.

Sanders’ family, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former first-lady Janet Huckabee, were in attendance.

After she filed, she fielded questions from the press on various topics including Medicaid expansion, pro-life laws, and eliminating the state’s income tax. While she didn’t place a timeline on how long tax elimination would take, she said it must be done responsibly.

“There is no one thing that’s going to allow us to do that. We have to do that responsibly and we have to do it slowly, it’s not going to be an overnight process,” said Sanders.

“There are a number of things that we’re going to have to do, starting with cutting the size of government, we cannot allow government to continue to exponentially grow which it has done over the course of the last several decades. We have to stop that and look at how we can modernize and make government more efficient,” she said.

Sanders added that more government transformation is needed.

“As people and individuals retire in state government, we don’t have to have every one of those positions. We have to start bringing some of that in, we duplicate so many services, every single department doesn’t need an HR and accountant, a lot of that could be streamlined,” she said.

Five Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination in the race for governor: Dr. Anthony Bland, Jay Martin, James “Rus” Russell, Supha Xayprasith-Mays and Dr. Chris Jones. All of the Democratic candidates except for Bland, who will file Thursday, filed on opening day.

Jones, who has raised the most money in Democratic circles, called filing day an exciting day.

“This is a moment where we enter a new chapter in the race, where we become official candidates in this race and I can’t tell you how pumped we are about it because it’s our chance to really advance our ‘PB&J’ agenda which is education, infrastructure and economic development – that’s preschool, broadband and jobs,” Jones said.

Recent polls show Sanders is favored to become the state’s next governor, but Jones said he is working non-stop to do all he can to win.

“We have been to 70 of the 75 counties. Our tour will end next week and what we have heard across the board is that folks want a focus on economic development in our rural areas. Folks want to make sure that they’re part of the conversation, and really people just want a different kind of politics. I’m an ordained minister, I’m a man of faith, I bring that to the table,” he said.

Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. filed for governor on Tuesday also.

Among Republicans, Rep. French Hill filed for U.S. Congress, District 2; Conrad Reynolds filed for U.S. Congress, District 2; Rep. Steve Womack filed for U.S. Congress, District 3; Neil Robinson Kumar filed for U.S. Congress, District 3; Rep. Brandt Smith filed for U.S. Congress, District 1; Rep. Bruce Westerman filed for U.S. Congress, District 4; and Jake Bequette filed for U.S. Senate.

Among Democrats, Natalie James filed for U.S. Senate; Jack Foster filed for U.S. Senate; Dan Whitfield filed for U.S. Senate; Rep. Monte Hodges filed for U.S. Congress, District 1; and Lauren Mallett Hays filed for U.S. Congress, District 3.

Filing period ends Tuesday, March 1st.

In election-related news, U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday (Feb. 22) challenging newly drawn Arkansas House legislative seats.

Rudofsky ruled last Thursday that the case would be dismissed unless the U.S. Department of Justice intervened in the case within the next five days. The Department of Justice declined to intervene.

Editor’s note: Marine Glisovic is a senior political reporter for KATV News.