Running for office runs in the Huckabee family, at least for parents Mike and Janet, but daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders has never sought an elected position and instead has chosen to behind the scenes on campaigns and in front of the camera as press secretary for President Donald J. Trump.
With Sanders officially out of the administration, what’s next for her has been the subject of some speculation, that was mostly spurred by a June 13 tweet from Trump that said, in part, “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic.”
Behind the scenes though, things had already been in motion for some time in a potential run for the governorship.
Nearly a month before the Trump tweet, someone registered anonymously two web sites – SarahForGovernor.com and SarahForArkansas.com – on May 17. On the two sites now, there is a notice that they have been parked by the web service GoDaddy.com.
CBS News also reported a poll was conducted in Arkansas some months ago by “allies” of Sanders gauging voters interest in her candidacy.
Sources told CBS News, the poll results had her “‘crushing’ any potential Republican rivals, including current Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin who has been eyeing a run.”
Republican strategist Ed Rollins told CBS News that Sanders, “was an extraordinary talent when I worked with her when was 25 years old, and learned an extraordinary amount since then” and “Huckabee is still a magic name in Arkansas. If she wants to run she will be tough to beat.”
Politico also reported Sanders had been talking about running for the governorship for months.
“She has shown renewed interest in the prospect as she’s started contemplating her post-White House plans, the people said,” the article noted.
The very next day, after the Trump tweet, another website was registered, draftsarahforarkansas.com and Political Action Committee was formed and registered by Patrick Krason, a lobbyist and political consultant in Virginia.
In a Federal Elections Commission filing, Krason is listed as the custodian of records and treasurer for the Super PAC, that can fundraise and spend campaign funds, but cannot directly work with a candidate. In another FEC filing, the Super PAC doesn’t list any donations or expenditures, as of yet.
Sanders, who is still in Washington, isn’t registered to vote in Pulaski County according to a search of voter records, and neither she nor her husband, Bryan, who is a political consultant, own property in Pulaski County either.
Her parents, former Gov. Mike and Janet Huckabee, now permanently reside in Florida, but the couple still own a home in West Little Rock, according to county real estate records.
Sanders herself has been quiet on her intentions, telling reporters her only plans were to rest and spend more time with her three children this summer.
Of course, November 2022 is, in political terms, a lifetime away.
The governorship will be open then, as Asa Hutchinson will complete his second term and can’t run again because of term limits.
The political future for Sanders could also be largely dictated by her former boss, who will be up for re-election in 2020 and if Trump is in second term as Sanders eyes a run, the presidential bully pulpit will be formidable.
Even now, Trump hasn’t been shy in touting his now former press secretary’s credentials. At a recent rally where he announced his re-election campaign, Trump said, “I have a feeling she’s going to be running for a certain gubernatorial position. She’d be tough, right?”
That kind of megaphone would give Sanders a huge advantage.
However, if Trump were to lose or become embroiled in second term scandals, the association with him would potentially be a disadvantage as other potential candidates like Griffin, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and State Sen. Jim Hendren, who also happens to be the governor’s nephew, are likely considering runs. None of them have made any formal declarations yet.
There’s also the fact Sanders has never held political office or even ran for public office.
There’s also the matter of the documented lies Sanders spoke in her time as Trump’s press secretary, which might give some Arkansas voters pause.
The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan said while Sanders, “hopes to be remembered for her transparency and honesty” as press secretary yet the reality was, “lying to citizens while being paid by them really isn’t all that funny.”
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