He toured the state in an RV emblazoned with his name, launching a TV commercial that airs during Arkansas Razorbacks football games and talking from packed rooms in restaurants. The introduction of former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as the gubernatorial candidate hasn’t deviated from much of the campaign here.
Except for the crowd, which is much more than what people have seen in this mostly rural place. And the campaign thing, which is often not about the state.
“As I travel around the state, I keep hearing this criticism of, ‘Oh, there’s that Sarah Sanders, nationalizing the race,’” Sanders told a Colton steak at Cabot, a half-hour drive from the state. Told hundreds of people packed in the house. The capital of Little Rock. “And my answer to those people is, ‘You bet I am.’ Because if you’re not paying attention to what’s happening in this country, you’re missing out on what’s happening.”
Sanders’ reputation as a spokesman for former President Donald Trump earned him the status of an immediate front-runner in one of the most Trump-friendly states in the country. It is also turning politics into a place where voters in the state race are accustomed to hearing excessively about Arkansas taxes, Arkansas roads and Arkansas schools.
It is hardly the only state where local politics is no longer local. Elsewhere Republican candidates for governor are also focusing more on President Joe Biden than their opponents, and on federal issues rather than state. And many Democrats would prefer to talk about Trump rather than his rivals.
“Her approach shows that she understands contemporary voters in Arkansas and everywhere,” said Janine Parry, a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. Politics, Parry said, “is in a period of intense nationalization.”
This is a sharp contrast with the previous run for governor in Arkansas, where Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson campaigned on the need for computer science education in schools. His predecessor, Democratic Governor Mike Beebe, ran for an end to the sales tax on groceries.
Sanders, 39, announced his bid in January with a promise to fight “radical leftists,” something that’s hard to find in solidly red Arkansas. On Twitter and elsewhere, he is up against Biden over his coronavirus pandemic response, immigration and return. from Afghanistan.
“Sarah Sanders is not running for governor of Arkansas. She’s running on a national platform,” said former state Democratic Party chairman Michael John Gray, who now heads an independent committee focused primarily on defeating Sanders’ bid.
Sanders’ approach reflects how polarized the country has become in recent years. The inclusion of unpopular national democratic figures is seen as the best voter-motivation strategy even among local castes.
In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is expected to run for re-election, has been criticizing Biden over a range of issues, including federal spending.
In Oklahoma, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who faces re-election next year, has little to say about his state’s battle with COVID-19 – which hit the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths this week. rocked – but released a clever video on Biden’s performance in Afghanistan.
Some Democrats are also leaning nationally. California Governor Gavin Newsom defeated the recall effort earlier this month with a campaign that went against “Trumpism.” Phil Murphy of New Jersey has been campaigning on abortion rights and gun control, and at a recent rally, he criticized states like Florida and Texas. for his right-wing policies.
When Sanders talks about Arkansas, she does so only in broad strokes. She says she is tired of the state being at the bottom of many rankings. She said she wanted to abolish the state income tax, although she gave no indication of this. She also mentions doing something on education and workforce training, which she said hasn’t changed substantially when her father, Mike Huckabee, served as governor from 1996 to 2007.
“We have to stop trying to push kids through the system and really focus on how we’re preparing them to go into the workforce,” she told the Associated Press.
Though best known for the White House briefings during which he flirted with reporters and faced questions about his truthfulness, Sanders is no stranger to state politics. She appeared in TV commercials for her father’s campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s and chaired the campaign for Arkansas Sen.
She mostly shies away from referring to the current governor, Hutchinson, who has been branded as RINO, or Republican, in name only, after Trump vetoed an anti-transgender bill. Hutchinson is barred from running for governor again by the limit of the state’s term.
Her first TV commercial features footage of her father and former President Bill Clinton as they marked the 40th anniversary of the separation of Little Rock Central High School. It quickly moves toward a favorite target, claiming that “the radical left wants to teach our kids America is a racist and evil country.”
Sanders embarked on a statewide tour this month that included a rally with country singer John Rich that was attended by 1,000 people and a parade on Lake Ouachita, with more than 1,500 boats on his campaign.
At his stop in Cabot – a city of about 25,000 – he received the loudest applause when Sanders spoke about Trump.
“I am proud to have worked with a president who did exactly what he said he was going to do,” she said.
Sanders’ only opponent in the Republican primary, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, is far behind in fundraising. In July, Sanders is reported to have raised $9 million since announcing his candidacy, with most of the money coming from out-of-state.
Routledge says there is little achievement behind Sanders’ rhetoric.
“While my opponents talk about liberals…
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Sanders