Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary from 2017 to 2019, has emerged winner of the Governorship of Arkansas race.
The Republican who earned nearly twice as much of the vote as her next closest challenger, Democrat Chris Jones, will now take up a position that was held by her father, Mike Huckabee, from 1996 to 2007.
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.”
In her acceptance speech on Tuesday night, however, Sanders didn’t mention either the former or current president and instead shared stories about supporters she met during her campaign bid.
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 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.
During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure at the White House, she scaled back daily televised briefings after repeatedly sparring with reporters who aggressively questioned her. She faced questions about her credibility, particularly after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed that Sanders admitted making an unfounded claim to reporters about FBI agents’ reaction to director James Comey’s firing. But she also earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media.