Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders easily defeated her Republican opponent Tuesday in the GOP primary for governor of Arkansas, putting her a step closer to gaining the post once held by her father.
Mrs. Sanders, who was former President Trump’s chief spokesperson from 2017 until 2019, won 82% of the vote, far surpassing radio talk-show host Francis “Doc” Washburn, who garnered 18%, easily meeting the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff election.
She’ll face Democrat Chris Jones on the November ballot. Mr. Jones is a nuclear engineer and minister who easily defeated four opponents to win his party’s nomination on Tuesday.
Mrs. Sanders is favored to win in November, although general election polling has been scarce. A Remington Research Group poll from late February showed Mrs. Sanders leading Mr. Jones, 58% to 28%, in the deep red state. In 2020, Arkansas voted for Mr. Trump over Democrat Joe Biden by a margin of more than 27 percentage points.
November’s winner will replace Republican Asa Hutchinson, who has served as governor since 2015.
Mrs. Sanders is the daughter of Mike Huckabee, a former presidential candidate who served as Arkansas governor from 1996 to 2007.
She has campaigned on phasing out the state income tax, bolstering law enforcement to lower crime, and defeating the drug epidemic.
Mrs. Sanders has long enjoyed the backing of Mr. Trump, who in his January endorsement called her “a warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct.”
Mr. Jones said as governor he will focus on expanding preschool and broadband access, and on increasing jobs.
Republican primary voters stuck with incumbent Sen. John Boozman, who defeated three opponents, Jake Bequette, Heath Loftis, and Jan Morgan, in his bid for a third term. Like Mrs. Sanders, Mr. Boozman garnered enough votes to avoid a runoff.
Mr. Boozman drew primary opposition from more conservative opponents who called him a Republican in Name Only (RINO) and criticized him for refusing to challenge the 2020 presidential election results.
Mr. Boozman touted his conservative voting record in the Senate, as well as endorsements from both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Sanders.