The Associated Press called the Arkansas governor’s race for Sarah Huckabee Sanders as the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Huckabee Sanders defeated Democratic candidate Chris Jones by nearly 30 percentage points, becoming the state’s first female governor.
Huckabee Sanders has promised to lower taxes, keep neighborhoods safe and provide better education while acting as governor.
Huckabee Sanders served as White House Press Secretary from 2017 to 2019 under former President Donald Trump. Her campaign consisted of focusing on education, economic development, public safety and the workforce.
“Our campaign has been about taking Arkansas to the top,” Huckabee Sanders said in her Nov. 8 victory speech. “I know Arkansas can be first, and I am committed to being the leader who takes us there.”
Blade Ethridge, a sophomore studying political science, said he voted for Huckabee Sanders.
Huckabee Sanders has promised to keep the federal government out of Arkansas and maintain a larger state government, which is something Ethridge aligns with, he said.
Ethridge thinks Huckabee Sanders was the better candidate compared to Jones, he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him per se,” Ethridge said. “Some of the things that turn me off about people if they are running for a certain area is how long that they lived there.”
He likes how Huckabee Sanders was raised and attended college in Arkansas compared to Jones, who attended schools outside of Arkansas, Ethridge said.
Chris Jones furthered his higher education at MIT where he studied nuclear engineering and got his Ph.d. in urban planning. His campaign focused on “PB&J:” preschools, broadband and creating jobs from economic development.
Breannah Small, a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science, voted for Jones. Small previously attended Jones’ Q and A session Oct. 27 at the UofA.
Groups such as LGBTQ, undocumented immigrants and indigenous Arkansans are often attacked publicly and by legislation, Small said. Small thinks it is important for the governor to provide support for vulnerable groups, she said.
“Even if we can’t get a candidate in office who will pass legislation to help these groups, I would rather that to stay the same versus, like, Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ (proposed) legislation attacks certain groups,” Small said.
Sophie Bruozas, a freshman studying international business, also voted for Huckabee Sanders. Bruozas is the social media chair for the UA College Republicans.
Bruozas is from Illinois and decided to register to vote in Arkansas because she will live here for the next four years. Huckabee Sanders has always caught her eye, but she wanted to learn more about Jones as well, she said.
Huckabee Sanders plans to make police officers undergo additional training, as well as including overtime for officers to improve the safety of Fayetteville, Bruozas said. In addition, Huckabee Sanders plans to make mental health resources available to prison inmates to focus on rehabilitation rather than just punishment. Bruozas said Huckabee Sanders is also a young, successful female politician, which is another reason she decided to vote for her.
“I don’t feel like Sarah has ever showed, like, any discrimination towards a group, and I don’t really think that having her as governor would really change the diversity and inclusion of (Fayetteville),” Bruozas said.
Small said she was disappointed, but not surprised by the results. She was born and raised in Arkansas and is familiar with Republicans winning, she said.
Ethridge was very happy with the results of the election, he said. All of the candidates he voted for won, but he was specifically glad that Huckabee Sanders won the governorship because of her promise to lower state income tax, which most states have already faded out.
In the other state elections, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was elected lieutenant governor, after becoming the first woman to hold her current position in 2015.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin was elected attorney general, and Secretary of State John Thurston was re-elected.
In Fayetteville, two new city council members won four-year terms. Sarah Moore defeated Mark Kinion and will replace him as city council member for Ward 2. Scott Berna defeated Sloan Scroggin and will become the new city council member for Ward 3.
City Attorney Kit Williams ran unopposed and will begin his sixth term next year. City council members Sonia Harvey of Ward 1 and Teresa Turk of Ward 4 ran unopposed and will serve their second terms.