Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders formally launched her 2022 campaign for Arkansas governor on Monday, releasing a roughly eight-minute video that leaned heavily on her tenure as former President Donald Trump’s top spokesperson.
The 38-year-old Republican political operative, whose father is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was expected to enter the race this week. If Sanders continues to tether her candidacy to the former president, her fate in the GOP gubernatorial primary could serve as one of the first real tests of Trump’s staying power in Republican politics in the aftermath of his four years in office.
In her announcement video, Sanders claimed to have “been tested under fire, successfully managing one crisis after another” in what she described as “one of the most difficult, high-pressure jobs in all of government.” As White House press secretary, “I took on the media, the radical left and their cancel culture, and I won,” she said.
Sanders, who has never held elected office and will compete against Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in the state’s Republican primary, emphasized the need for “a new generation of leadership” in Little Rock and called for “law and order” to counter the “radical left’s solution” of imposed “government control and censorship from the top down.”
She also condemned the “violence in our streets, at a congressional baseball practice and at our Capitol” — apparently equating the 2017 attack on Republican lawmakers by a former volunteer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign with this month’s deadly siege of the nation’s seat of government by pro-Trump rioters.
“Everything we love about America is at stake, and with the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense,” Sanders said. “In fact, your governor must be on the front line. So today, I announce my candidacy for governor of Arkansas and ask for your prayers and your support.”
It was long anticipated that Sanders would mount a gubernatorial run following her exit from the White House in June 2019, and Trump has repeatedly praised her potential candidacy. In announcing her departure as press secretary, the former president tweeted: “I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas — she would be fantastic.”
At the time of her resignation, POLITICO reported that Sanders was “extremely serious” about running for governor, and she has made several moves since leaving the White House fueling speculation about a coming campaign.
In July 2019, Sanders appeared at an exclusive Republican Governors Association-hosted retreat, and in September 2019, she joined Fox News as a contributor — where she has remained an ardent on-air defender of Trump. She also unveiled a sleek personal website in August 2019 and published a White House memoir last fall.