Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been declared the winner of the race for Arkansas governor.
Sanders, 40, was a press secretary for former President Donald Trump and is the daughter of Mike Huckabee, Arkansas’ 44th governor.
She becomes the first woman elected to the Arkansas governor’s office, defeating Democrat Chris Jones, The Associated Press reported. With 40 percent of votes counted, Sanders had 60 percent of the vote to Jones’ 38.1 percent.
Sanders will be succeeding term-limited Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has indicated intentions to run for president.
It’s the first time since Reconstruction that Arkansas has had back-to-back Republican governors, according to KARK-TV. And it’s the first time a child of an Arkansas governor has been elected to the same office.
It was Trump who encouraged Sanders to run for governor following her departure from the White House.
Her entrance into the governor’s race created problems for another term-limited state official, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who had previously declared her candidacy for governor.
She publicly said Sanders’ entrance into the race had not strained their long friendship and eventually switched her candidacy to that of lieutenant governor.
Another gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, a former congressman, also dropped out, running instead for attorney general.
While there was the perception that Sanders had swooped in to upset Republican primary races already in progress, she is no stranger to Arkansas politics.
In campaign speeches she recounted her work in her father’s campaign efforts. She also managed the 2010 campaign of former Sen. John Boozman and in 2014 was an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton.
Sanders’ victory was little surprise for state Republicans, whose growth and election victories in recent years resulted in a supermajority in the legislature. Arkansas was the last Southern state to turn red following nearly a century and a half of Democratic dominance.
While press secretary for Trump, Sanders gave as good as she got in intense verbal duels with White House reporters, a challenging role given media hostility toward the former president.
Full disclosure requires me to indicate that I am the Republican state committeeman for Washington County, Arkansas, although I have had no connection with Sanders’ campaign.
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