Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running to become the 47th Governor of Arkansas.
Sanders, who had the longest tenure as Press Secretary to former President Donald Trump, announced her gubernatorial campaign for the 2022 election Monday through a video announcement.
"Everything we love about America is at stake and with the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense. In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today, I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas," Sanders said.
Sanders said that if elected, she would "defend your right to be free of socialism and tyranny, your Second Amendment right to keep your family safe, and your freedom of speech and religious liberty."
In the almost eight-minute-long video, Sanders said she would "courageously lead the state." She also spoke against sanctuary city policies, which under the current state statute are already not allowed after the 2019 Arkansas General Assembly passed a bill prohibiting them that current Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law.
"I will stand with our brave law enforcement officers, promote law and order and keep our communities safe," Sanders said.
Sanders also spoke on her experience as White House Secretary under former President Donald Trump, a position that she held for not quite two years.
"Our state needs a leader with the courage to do what’s right, not what’s politically correct or convenient. I took on the media, the radical left and their cancel culture," Sanders said.
She would be a second-generation Arkansas governor, with her father Mike Huckabee having served as governor from 1996 to 2007. If she were to win, she would become the first woman to ever serve as Governor of Arkansas.
Sanders enters a field of GOP candidates that consists of Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Current Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is term-limited from running for the position again.
In a statement issued Sunday night before Sanders made her official announcement, Griffin "welcomed" her into the race, saying "I look forward to comparing our experience, track record and vision for the future in Arkansas."
However, on Monday morning, Griffin released another statement, this time saying that Sanders needed to "brush up on [Arkansas'] Sanctuary Cities law."
"Her pledge to ban sanctuary cities would have been a great line in a speech back in 2019, but not in 2021. It sounds like she needs to catch up on what's been going on in Arkansas," Griffin said in the statement.
Griffin also spoke on Sanders' statement on reducing the state's income tax level, saying that he is aiming for the eventual elimination of Arkansas' income tax in its entirety.
Rutledge released a statement on Monday after Sanders entered the race.
"Sarah and her family have been good friends for a long time and will continue to be after this election. As our great state and nation face threats to our liberties and freedoms from far-left national leaders, Arkansas must have a leader with a proven record of accomplishments against the liberal left," Rutledge's statement said.
The chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, Michael John Gray, also released a statement on Sanders' candidacy.
"Arkansas deserves candidates that talk about investing in every community across the state, who understand that arguing about Washington politics doesn't put food on the table--jobs and economic opportunity do," Gray said.
Speaking with KUAR News, Gray said though Sanders’ candidacy wasn’t surprising, as it had been rumored for a while, he was frustrated by the contents of the video announcement.
"She repeated all of the national talking points. All of the things Republicans have used to really take over in the South and really divide us. [She] talked about fighting the radical left and stopping the Green New Deal. It was almost a national campaign ad. It’s really frustrating because we’re talking about the Governor of Arkansas, right?," Gray said.
Gray also said Sanders’ candidacy is just one example of the new ideology of the state’s Republican party.
"I think with [the] ushering out of the Hutchinson administration in the frontrunners we’re seeing in the Republican Party, this is the new Republican Party of Arkansas. This is the Donald Trump Republican Party of Arkansas, where the budget will no longer be a moral document to them. It will just simply be a means to an end to promote an ideology and that’s scary for Arkansas," Gray said.
As far as to what Arkansas Democrats would need to do to run against the eventual GOP nominee, Gray said one challenge for the party is the process of campaigning against the "perceived winner."
"Right now the perceived winner in Arkansas has been the Republican Party in Arkansas. [President Trump] won 60-something percent here in Arkansas. So they’re up against the notion that they just can’t win," Gray said. "However, that shouldn’t stop them from running. People shouldn’t run for office only to win. People shouldn’t for office only to elevate themselves. People should run for office because they care about things, that they want to see issues talked about, that they want to see things made better."
As of yet, no Democrats have publicly announced a bid for the governorship. Gray said though he has spoken to some potential candidates, they are going "to announce on their own timetable."
This story was orignally published Monday morning. It has since been updated