Arkansas’ GOP lieutenant governor announced Monday that he is ending his campaign for governor, just two weeks after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former White House press secretary for the Trump administration, entered the state’s gubernatorial race, a sign of her perceived threat.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin announced in a Monday statement that he will begin campaigning to become Arkansas’ attorney general instead, saying “I can do more for Arkansas in a different capacity.”
Griffin, a former U.S. attorney and congressman, was the first candidate to join the race to succeed Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), announcing his bid for governor in August of last year.
In a campaign largely focused on eliminating the state’s income tax, Griffin had raised more than $1.8 million since March.
However, Sanders, who has the power of her former boss Donald Trump behind her, quickly accrued even more enthusiasm, raising $1 million in the first four days of her campaign.
Sanders announced her bid for governor on Jan. 25, earning an endorsement from Trump the same day. In a campaign video, Sanders positioned herself as the state’s last line of defense against the “radical left now in control of Washington,” touting her experience in Trump’s White House. Griffin’s departure leaves Attorney General Leslie Rutledge as Sanders’ only competitor for the position, though state Sen. Jim Hendren may also enter the race. Trump has a significant base of support in Arkansas, a state he won by a nearly 28-point margin in the 2020 election.
In statements to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, the other gubernatorial candidates applauded Griffin’s legacy, with Sanders labeling him “a strong voice for Arkansas” and Rutledge describing her former competitor as “a fierce advocate for Arkansas’s conservative values.” “I wish Tim and his family the very best,” said Sanders.
“Griffin shifting to make attorney general bid, plans to exit governor’s race” (Arkansas Democrat Gazette)