Arkansas state senator Jason Rapert intends to run for lieutenant governor in 2022. The role is currently occupied by Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who be term-limited out of office by the election, leaving a vacancy that Sen. Rapert hopes to fill.
Rapert is a Republican member of the Arkansas Senate and represents District 35 in the central portion of the state, a seat that he has held since 2011.
Arkansas Money and Politics confirmed in an interview with the senator on Friday that he would not be running for re-election again for his state senate seat during the next cycle, but instead has his sights set on the second-highest elected position in the state of Arkansas – lieutenant governor.
“[Lt. Gov. Griffin] has been a friend and he actually encouraged me to run for that office back in 2014,” Sen. Rapert says on his decision. “It just wasn’t a good time for my family. I had young children at the time.”
This encouragement came when Griffin was still a U.S. Representative for Arkansas’ 2nd congressional district. Griffin would go on to run for, and win, the lieutenant governor position himself that year. His congressional seat was then won by current Rep. French Hill.
Sen. Rapert also says that, back in 2018, during his most recent election for senate, he considered the possibility of moving forward with another path and discussed it with his leaders and friends who said, “we’d really love to see you stay in the Senate. We need you in the Senate,” he recalls.
Now, the Conway senator says that “it’s time.”
“My children will all be out of the home [by 2022] and I’ll be 50 years old and I’m ready to contribute and help [on] that level,” he says.
Sen. Rapert is the chairman of the Insurance and Commerce Committee, has been a business owner in Conway before his life in politics and carried a bipartisan bill from the Senate to eliminate the grocery bill tax that then Gov. Mike Beebe signed into law, which is one of Rapert’s prized accomplishments.
“I look forward to just being an advocate for what I think are the pro-growth business policies that have helped contribute to the lowest unemployment rate we’ve had in our history here,” Rapert says.
According to Rapert, he had no intention of making such an announcement this early, but after being prodded and pressed on the topic, he decided to go ahead and make his intentions clear.
“Things could change,” he says. “But that’s my intent because it’s going to be an open seat.”
The current lieutenant governor, Tim Griffin, has found his name trickling through the rumor mills as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2022 when Gov. Asa Hutchinson completes his second and final term, as well as Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.
On that star-studded lineup of potential candidates, Rapert is not theorizing who may be the Republican party’s next candidate.
“I’m gonna let them run their races,” he says. “I will let them handle their announcements and what they want to say. “But I guarantee you this, I’m going to be out there fighting for a good, strong Republican governor.”
Image courtesy of Sen. Jason Rapert