Former U.S. Senate candidate Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. is joining the 2022 Arkansas governor’s race.
Harrington declared his intent to run in the 2022 gubernatorial race in a Twitter post on Friday, April 23. Harrington will be running as a third-party candidate with the Libertarian Party of Arkansas.
This is the second high-profile race that Harrington has entered in recent years. He challenged incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Tom Cotton in the 2020 Senate race, making him Cotton’s only challenger after Democratic candidate Josh Mahony dropped out of the race only two hours after the candidate filing period ended in 2019.
In the Senate race, Cotton won by a 66.5 percent margin, capturing 793,871 votes, according to Ballotpedia. Harrington garnered 399,390 votes, taking 33.5 percent of the vote.
Harrington told Arkansas Money & Politics in a phone interview that he was motivated to run for governor based on his desire to enact criminal justice and health care reform in the state and that the Governor’s Office offered the best station for this effort. “ I weighed my options on what office I could run for next, and I believe that with the skills that I have and what I hope to accomplish, it is best done in the office of governor rather than a representative because Washington politics is really bogged down,” he said.
Currently, Harrington is working to gather signatures to gain a spot on the ballot for the governor’s race. “I’m trying to galvanize support. The first thing to do is to get on the ballot, and the next thing is once the Secretary of State has verified the signature…we have our nominating convention for the Libertarian Party.
The 2022 election has already attracted significant attention with a crowded field of candidates. On the Republican side, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and current Arkansas State Attorney General Leslie Rutledge are vying for the GOP nomination. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin previously declared his candidacy but dropped out of the race with intent to run for the state Attorney General’s Office. There are three candidates who have declared their intent to run for the Democratic Party nomination. These include Supha Xayprasith-Mays, Anthony Bland and James ‘Rus’ Russell.
“I’m looking forward to an excellent, open, honest political discourse among all the candidates so that people can see who would better represent them,” he said. “I know there’s three people that have announced to run as Democrats. There’s Attorney General Rutledge and Mrs. Huckabee Sanders, and I’ll be looking forward to engaging with any of their candidates that win in the primaries.”
Harrington emphasized that he is looking to conduct his campaign in non-adversarial terms. “The whole point of running is to let the people know that they have everything they need to make this state, this country what they want it to be. We don’t have to treat one another in such adversarial terms,” he said.
To qualify to run for Arkansas governor, candidates must be at least 30 years old and lawfully registered to vote. They must be a U.S. citizen and an Arkansas resident for seven years and cannot hold any other state or federal office. Candidates must “possess the qualifications of an elector,” according to Arkansas Code, and must not have been convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, forgery or another infamous crime.
According to his candidate profile, Harrington graduated from Harding University and served a two-year mission in China, working as a university teacher and hospital consultant. After returning to Arkansas in 2016, he became a prison chaplain at the Arkansas Department of Correction’s Cummins Unit.