Sanders names Gretchen Conger chief of staff, Chris Caldwell to lead 2026 re-election bid

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 2,365 views 

Photo courtesy of Michael Hibblen, KUAR 89.1 FM.

Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders named Gretchen Conger as her incoming gubernatorial chief of staff on Tuesday (Nov. 22).

“Gretchen Conger’s proven experience and leadership from her time in the Arizona governor’s office makes her the perfect choice to serve as my Chief of Staff,” Sanders said. “Her dedication during the campaign to develop policy plans and initiatives, as well as her enthusiasm to get to know Arkansans, will help me usher in my bold agenda to take Arkansas to the top and build an incredible, talented team to serve the people of our state.”

“I am honored and humbled that Governor-elect Sanders has tapped me to be her Chief of Staff,” Conger said. “It will be the honor of my life to serve Arkansas’ first woman governor, and I am confident that her conservative leadership and bold agenda will ensure better opportunities for all Arkansans. I love Arkansas and its people, and I’m excited to get to work serving them and their interests.”

Conger brings more than 12 years of experience in public policy and political engagement at the federal, state, and local levels in both the private and public sector.

Prior to joining the Sanders campaign in 2021 as a senior advisor, Conger worked for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey for nearly seven years, both as his legislative director and as deputy chief of staff. She was responsible for strategic development and execution of Ducey’s agenda, including his legislative, policy, and budget priorities.

Before joining the Ducey administration, Conger was the vice president of Public Policy at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and she ran the Arizona Chamber Foundation, a nonprofit policy research entity. She also has both issue-based and candidate-based campaign experience.

Conger graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Bachelor of Arts in political science and minors in French and Spanish.

Sanders also announced Tuesday (Nov. 22) she would transfer $2.5 million from her 2022 campaign coffers to her re-election campaign in 2026. Campaign manager Chris Caldwell will assume the role of senior advisor for her re-election, Sanders said.

“My victory this month would not have been possible without Chris and the incredible team he assembled, which is why I am pleased that he has agreed to ensure I am well-positioned for re-election in 2026,” Sanders said. “I cannot thank Chris enough for his candid advice over these many years and his leadership of my campaign. I look forward to our continued work together to make Arkansas a better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

“Sarah made history on election night, and I was honored to help lead her and her team to victory,” Caldwell said. “Arkansas is blessed to have someone with her character, determination, and vision to lead our state, and I am excited to see all that she accomplishes while preparing for her re-election.”