LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was elected Arkansas governor on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to lead the state and the highest profile Trump administration official in elected office.
Sanders defeated Democratic nominee Chris Jones in the race for governor in her predominantly Republican home state, where former President Donald Trump remains popular. Sanders had been heavily favored to win the race, which also included Libertarian nominee Ricky Dale Harrington.
Sanders shattered state fundraising records with her campaign, which focused primarily on national issues. Sanders, the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, regularly promised to use the office to fight President Joe Biden and the “radical left.”
Sanders succeeds Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is leaving office in January due to term limits. Hutchinson, who endorsed Sanders’ bid, is considering running for president in 2024 and has frequently split with Trump.
Trump publicly encouraged Sanders to run for governor when she left the White House in 2019 to return to Arkansas.
But Sanders was a known figure in the state long before Trump. She appeared in ads for her father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, and worked on his campaigns. She managed Sen. John Boozman’s 2010 election and worked as an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton’s in 2014.
Sanders briefly left the campaign trail in September after undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer. Her doctor said Sanders was cancer free after the surgery.