Arkansas governor makes bid official as filing kicks off
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ governor made his bid for a second term official Thursday as he joined dozens of other candidates for state and federal office at the start of filing for this year’s election.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was among the candidates who filed paperwork on the first day of the one-week filing period at the state Capitol to run. Hutchinson, who was first elected in 2014, faces a longshot challenge in the May primary from Jan Morgan, a gun range owner and cable news commentator who has tried to paint the governor as insufficiently conservative.
“I think everybody who knows my entire career and record as governor knows I have not only believed and campaigned as a conservative, but I have governed as a conservative,” Hutchinson told reporters after filing.
Morgan and Democratic hopeful Jared Henderson are expected to file next week.
Democrats said they believe they can make gains in this year’s election, despite Republicans controlling all statewide and federal offices, as well as majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
“We’ve got quality candidates who care about where they’re from, and the expectation moving forward is they’re going to go home and work just as hard there to campaign as they did to get here today,” said state Rep. Michael John Gray, who chairs the state Democratic Party.
State GOP Chairman Doyle Webb said he believed Republicans were poised to pick up seats in state House and possibly the Senate. All 100 House seats and 17 of the 35 Senate seats are up this year.
David Sterling, the top attorney for the state Department of Human Services, filed paperwork to challenge state Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson in the May judicial election. Goodson lost her bid for chief justice two years ago in a race where outside groups flooded the state with mailers and ads attacking her.
Thursday’s filing also set up a three-person Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat in central Arkansas the party is trying to reclaim. State Rep. Clarke Tucker and educators Paul Spencer and Gwen Combs filed to run for the 2nd District seat. Republican Rep. French Hill, who holds the seat, also filed for re-election.
State Treasurer Dennis Milligan was the first to file on Thursday, making his bid for a second term official. No Democrats have announced a bid yet to unseat Milligan, a Republican.
“It just worked out that way for me to be first in line, I guess,” Milligan, who said he’s usually at the Capitol early in the morning, said. “I want to certainly show citizens of the state I’m ready, willing and able.”
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