It’s only been three months since AMP’s last election preview, but already much has changed in terms of candidate jockeying.
Plus, history will likely be made in November. The 2022 election is perhaps the most diverse in state history with women, people of color and first-generation immigrants vying for nearly every political position available. Arkansas seems poised to elect its first female governor.
Here is an updated breakdown of what to expect as the May primaries approach.
For the first time in history, Arkansas is poised to have a female, Black or Asian governor, and even the possibility of several of these groundbreaking demographics depending on the candidate.
In November of 2021, it looked as though the governor’s race would be a showdown among current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, current Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and former Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. However, the face of the gubernatorial race changed when, faced with the daunting task of challenging Sanders’ campaign juggernaut, Griffin decided to run for Rutledge’s position, and Rutledge decided to throw her hat in the ring for Griffin’s instead.
Anthony Bland, Chris Jones, James Russell and Supha Xayprasith-Mays are running against Sanders as Democrats, while Ricky Dale Harrington Jr., who challenged Sen. Tom Cotton in 2020, is running on the Libertarian ticket.
Sanders has since raised more than $12.8 million dollars from 87,000 donors, strengthening her grip on the position.
Incumbent GOP Sen. John Boozman’s current greatest threat lies in the May primary with former Razorback football player and U.S. Army Ranger Jake Bequette. Bequette has criticized Boozman and other GOP members for “not leading from the front.”
Other Republican candidates include Heath Loftis and former gubernatorial candidate Jan Morgan, while Democratic candidates include Jack Foster, Natalie James and Dan Whitfield.
The state’s entrenched Republican congressional incumbents are expected to win reelection in 2022.
Rick Crawford and French Hill face a primary opponent and a general election opponent in the First and Second districts, respectively; Rick Womack will see general election opponents only in the Third District; and Bruce Westerman is unopposed in the Fourth.
Brant Smith is challenging Crawford in the GOP primary for the opportunity to face state Rep. Monte Hodges in November, Hill will square off against GOP challenger Conrad Reynolds in the primary with Democrats Quintessa Hathaway and Nicolas Cartwright running for the right to face the winner in the general, and Democrats Lauren Mallett-Hays and Neil Kumar will square off for the right to face Womack.
Democratic candidates for the attorney general’s position in Arkansas include Jason Davis and Jesse Gibson, while Republican candidates include Griffin and Washington County Judge Leon Jones Jr.
The current field for lieutenant governor is a crowded one. Republican candidates are Chris Bequette, Arkansas Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, Arkansas State Sen. Jason Rapert, Doyle Webb, Joseph Wood and current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The winner of the GOP primary will face off against Democrat Kelly Krout in November.
Arkansas State Rep. Mark Lowery recently dropped out of the race for secretary of state, opting to run against fellow Republican Mathew Pitsch, a state senator, for the state treasurer’s position instead. Pitsch has been endorsed by current Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Secretary of State
With Lowery’s recent departure from the race, incumbent Secretary of State John Thurston will have to fend off the challenge from fellow Republican Eddie Joe Williams as well as Democratic candidates Anna Beth Gorman and Joshua Price.
Still a red state
The majority of Arkansas’ political positions have a greater number of well-known Republicans vying against one another instead of Democratic opponents.
As a result, Republicans are predicted to sweep the board again this election cycle. In the two most high-profile races, Boozman is expected to be re-elected, and Sanders is expected to win the gubernatorial race to replace the term-limited Hutchinson.