Sarah Huckabee Sanders will win the GOP nomination for CNN projects Arkansas Governor

The 39-year-old former White House press secretary enjoyed the support of former President Donald Trump and easily dispatched her only Republican opponent long after clearing the way for other serious contenders for the Republican Party.

Returning to the governor’s mansion would be a homecoming for Sanders after spending her teenage years in that house as the former governor’s daughter. Mike Huckabee – A pastor who led the state for more than 10 years. Sanders was the first daughter in US history to serve as governor of the same state that her father once led.

“The only thing that can stop Sarah Sanders from becoming Arkansas governor is an invasion of Mars,” Arkansas Republican strategist Bill Vickery said ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Trump won Arkansas by 28 points in 2020.

Sanders left the White House in 2019 as a controversial figure on the national stage after two and a half years serving as one of Trump’s most trusted and steadfast advocates. During the campaign, she referred to that period as evidence of her unwillingness to back down, presenting herself as a firewall against the “radical left” while showering the national media with scorn.

With her deep political connections in Arkansas, and her experience as a seasoned political activist and patriot having built her as a press secretary and later as a contributor to Fox, she quickly established herself as the favorite to win after entering the race in January 2021.

But Vickery said the core of her relationship with the electorate was the fact that she had been in the public eye since her pre-teen years, beginning with her father’s 1992 Senate elections, followed by his time as lieutenant governor, and then as governor.

“I sort of grew up in front of everyone in Arkansas. Then as President Trump’s spokesperson,” Vickery said, “the vast majority of Arkansas voters, who are Republicans, saw that what they felt was significant mistreatment of her by national press and popular culture figures — They saw her stand up to it.”

At the time of her exit from the White House, when Trump was celebrating her as a “fighter” and pushing her toward running for governor, her critics were calling her unruly, arguing that her credibility and her legacy had been irrevocably tarnished.
Sanders came under personal criticism when then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was released. It was revealed that she, as deputy press secretary, provided unsubstantiated information to reporters when she claimed in May 2017, after the president fired FBI Director James Comey, that countless FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey. Mueller’s report said Sanders admitted to investigators that her comments were “based on nothing.”

But back home, her treatment in Washington was considered harsh by many Arkans residents.

“Stories of personal attacks and evictions from restaurants,” Vickery said, referring to the 2018 incident when Sanders said the owner of a Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, asked her to leave because she was working for Trump. “There’s an element of Arkansas that takes that personally — because of her favorite daughter stature. A big part of her public personality here is the fortitude, grit, and determination she’s shown in retreating,” he added.
Sanders’ critics in Washington will offer a different account of her years navigating the rock bottom in the relationship between the White House and the press. Ironically, Sanders once used her time on the podium to read a letter of tribute from a 9-year-old nicknamed “dilemma“To the chief. She was often criticized for being evasive, for Appreciate loyalty to Trump above all and to gradually cancel the daily White House briefing.
Although she entered the White House with intimate relations with several reporters, tensions quickly escalated. In a notable example of how strained the relationship is, Sanders defended Trump’s declaration that the press was an “enemy of the people” during a 2018 interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta. By January 2019, Trump tweeted that the reason Sanders didn’t take the podium “anymore is because the press is covering her rudely and inaccurately,” adding, “I told her not to care.”

Consolidation of Republican Party support

But her popularity in the red state of Arkansas showed how receptive voters were to her fightback and unrepentant defense of Trump in the role.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin abandoned the governor’s race to run for attorney general weeks after Sanders announced her candidacy. Country Attorney General Leslie Routledge, who served as legal counsel to Mike Huckabee when he was governor and when he ran for president in 2008, dropped out of the race in November to run in the already crowded race for vice governor.

Trump’s endorsement of Sanders has given greater incomes to thousands of small dollar donors, as backed by GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“She’s been an unstoppable force all along,” said Janine Barry, a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas, noting that Sanders has emerged at a very different political moment than her father, taking advantage of Arkansas’ transition from an overwhelmingly Democratic state. To a strong republic since 2010.

“She’s an accomplished activist. We don’t know much about her public policy positions, at least at the state level, but of course in this climate it doesn’t really matter.”

Sanders’ campaign did not respond to CNN’s requests for an interview.

Democrats are likely to end up with their own charismatic candidate in Chris Jones, a nuclear minister and engineer who earned a Ph.D. in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But Barry, who is also director of the Arkansas referendum at the university, said it would be difficult for any Democrat to break “38% at best” in November given the Republican Party’s dominance within the state.

Sanders focused her campaign on some of the most polarizing national issues in politics — denouncing public school closures during the pandemic and targeting critical race theory, an academic framework rarely used below the university level. She claimed that as ruler she would “educate children, not indoctrinate them”.
self-proclaimed “The last line of defense Against the dangerous and radical left policies coming from Washington. She often reminded her audience of her relatability as a mother by featuring her three children in her ads.
In one, where her role as a mother was better prepared to run for office, her children tried to style each other’s hairstyles and build a tower of wine glasses in the kitchen — portrayed as examples of Sanders practicing saying “no” (including to reporters at the White House press service) . “As a governor, I will say no to Biden and the radical left’s agenda, but yes to good schools, lower taxes and higher-paying jobs,” she says in the ad.

As voters struggle with rising gas and groceries prices, Sanders has also campaigned to begin phasing out the state’s income tax, though she hasn’t set a timetable or specified the specific cuts she will make on existing programs. In the clear, made-for-television audio clips that have become her hallmark, she suggested that she would create a “wage increase” for Arkansas that would offset the “wage cuts” they were experiencing through inflation, adopting the GOP’s argument that the Biden administration’s policies had made inflation worse.

Jones, the Democratic candidate, told CNN he was not opposed to the income tax cuts, but that as a mathematician he did not “see the work” of the Sanders campaign around the cuts needed to make complete phase-out possible.

Contesting against four other Democrats in the primaries, Jones argues that the Arkansans will eventually reject what he describes as Sanders’ campaign message of fear, lies and divisive politics and embrace what his “PB&J” agenda calls – preschool, broadband and jobs.

Sanders’ opponents, left and right, accused her of avoiding hard questions and failing to clarify her positions on controversial issues from the January 6, 2021 uprising to the series of bills passed by the Arkansas legislature targeting the rights of the transgender and LGBTQ community.
In a recent interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Sanders — an evangelical Christian — said she “would not push for any exceptions” to abortion, including when asked about life-saving cases of the mother, or cases of rape and incest.
When asked if the 2020 election was stolen for Trump, he falsely claimed, Sanders was vague during that last interview. “I don’t think we’ll ever know how deep the fraud is,” she said, despite the lack of widespread evidence of election fraud.

“We know that there is fraud in every election,” she told the newspaper. “How far and wide it has gone, I don’t think that’s going to be something that will ever be determined.”

Political tactic jumps to the candidate

Sanders’ ease of deflecting questions in such a way that they are open to broad interpretation is a political skill that has been instrumental in her ascent. Several Arkansas political strategists said that one of the most overlooked aspects of her campaign was her depth of knowledge of the state as a political tactic.

In her memoir “Speak for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Struggle of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House,” Sanders notes that she spent most of her childhood on the Arkansas festival circuit campaigning with her father. It was a course that included a chuck wagon, a frog, and turtles, and a Gillette Coon dinner where she said that One should eat a raccoon to avoid offending the hosts — “I loved it,” she wrote. By the time she was an undergraduate at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, she was spending summers touring the state as a field officer for her father’s 2002 reelection campaign and organizing a statewide RV tour.

After two years in the George W. Bush administration, Sanders helped run her father’s 2008 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, and later served as his campaign manager in 2016. In the early days of that first presidential campaign when she was 24, she wrote that she was “A scheduler, driver, forward team, digital director, press secretary (and) her father’s political director”—and ultimately running his Iowa operation—the rally he won. She later ran the 2010 US Senate campaign for the then-member of the House of Representatives. John Boozman of Arkansas helped him win the nomination directly in an eight-person field.

John Gilmore, an Arkansas-based political strategist who advises the governor, He remembers how Sanders took Bozeman’s place in one of his debates when he had a struggle: “How many other campaign managers actually stood for the candidate in a debate with the other candidates for the US Senate?” He asked before the primaries on Tuesday.

“She really had at that time the ability to speak in a way that was unique to the voters in Arkansas, and now it is completely different,” Gilmore said. “She’s a daughter of Arkansas. She knows the state better than anyone — and I think that’s why you’ve seen support rally around her.”

This story was updated Tuesday with CNN’s predictions in the race.

Leave a Comment