Sanders, the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, drew more than 80 percent of the vote to defeat longshot anti-establishment candidate Francis “Doc” Washburn, a former conservative talk radio host in the Little Rock area.
She will face physicist and minister Chris Jones in the general election in November. Jones is the projected winner of the Democratic primary with more than 71 percent of the vote, with 46 percent of the precincts reporting late on May 24.
Sanders said on the campaign trail that she would protect conservative Arkansas from the radical national agenda pushed by liberal lawmakers in Washington. She proposed to phase out the state income tax, to give taxpayers a pay raise amid inflation, support police to enforce the law, and expand public-funded school choice programs.
Sanders had endorsements from former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and incumbent Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who can’t seek reelection due to Arkansas’ two-term limit for governors. A few weeks ago, he publicly said he’s weighing a presidential run in 2024.
According to the latest financial disclosures published by the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office, Sanders raised $13 million during her campaign, to far outpace any other Republican or Democratic candidate.
After Sanders entered the gubernatorial race in January, Republican Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge both dropped their bids for governor and ran for each other’s post instead.
Sanders’s lone primary rival, Washburn, jumped into the race after Sanders endorsed U.S. Sen. John Boozman and U.S. Rep. French Hill in their respective reelection races. Neither Boozman nor Hill fully supported Trump following the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the Capitol, and Sanders’s endorsement of both deeply concerned Washburn, he told several local media outlets.