Nationalize your governor’s run? “Bet it’s me,” says Sanders | Washington, DC news

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By ANDREW DeMILLO, Associated Press

CABOT, Ark. (AP) – She has toured the state in a motor home adorned with her name, started a television commercial that airs during the Arkansas Razorbacks football games, and spoken to crowded rooms in restaurants. The introduction of former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as a candidate for governor hasn’t turned away from most of the campaigns here.

Apart from the crowds, which are way beyond what people have seen in this mostly rural place. And the election campaign talks, which are often not about the state.

“As I travel around the state, I keep hearing this criticism, ‘Oh, there’s this Sarah Sanders nationalizing the race,'” Sanders told hundreds of people who worked at Colton’s Steak House in Cabot, a half-hour drive from the State away, packed were capital of Little Rock. “And my answer to these people is, ‘Bet it’ll be me.’ Because if you don’t pay attention to what is happening in this country, you are missing out on what is happening. “

Sanders’ fame as spokeswoman for former President Donald Trump earned her instant frontrunner status in one of the most Trump-friendly states in the country. It is also changing politics in a place where state race voters are used to hearing mostly about Arkansas taxes, Arkansas streets, and Arkansas schools.

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This is hardly the only state in which local politics is no longer local. Elsewhere, too, Republican candidates for governor focus more on President Joe Biden than on their own opponents, and on state rather than state affairs. And many Democrats would rather talk about Trump than their rivals.

“Her approach suggests she understands the contemporary electorate in Arkansas and everywhere,” said Janine Parry, professor of political science at the University of Arkansas.

It’s a sharp contrast to past races for governor in Arkansas, where Republican governor Asa Hutchinson fought to require computer science classes in schools. His predecessor, Democratic Governor Mike Beebe, opposed the phasing out of VAT on food.

Sanders, 39, announced her offer in January with a promise to fight the “radical left,” something terribly hard to find in solid red Arkansas. On Twitter and elsewhere, she railed against Biden about his response to the coronavirus pandemic, immigration and withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Sarah Sanders is not running for Arkansas governor. She’s running on a national stage, “said Michael John Gray, a former chairman of the state’s Democratic Party who now heads an independent committee primarily focused on thwarting Sanders’ application.

Sanders’ approach reflects the country’s polarization in recent years. Summoning unpopular national democratic figures is seen as the best tactic for motivating voters, even in local races.

In Iowa, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, who is expected to run for re-election, has criticized Biden on numerous issues, including federal spending.

In Oklahoma, Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, who faces re-election next year, has little to say about his state’s fight against COVID-19 – which hit the dismal milestone of 10,000 deaths this week – but a slick video on Biden’s Afghanistan- Achievement published.

Some Democrats also tend nationally. California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested a recall attempt earlier this month with a campaign railing against “Trumpism” for its right-wing politics.

When Sanders talks about Arkansas, she is only broadly speaking. She says she is fed up with the state being at the bottom of many rankings. She said she wanted to abolish state income tax, but gives no guidance on how. She also mentions doing something about education and training, which she doesn’t think has changed much since her father, Mike Huckabee, was governor from 1996 to 2007.

“We need to stop just trying to push kids through the system and actually focus on how we prepare them for work,” she told the Associated Press.

Although Sanders is best known for her White House briefings, where she battled reporters and asked questions about her truthfulness, Sanders is no stranger to state politics. She appeared in television commercials for her father’s campaigns in the 1990s and early 2000s, and directed the campaign for Arkansas Sen. John Boozman.

She largely avoids referring to current Governor Hutchinson, whom Trump branded as RINO or Republican in Name Only after vetoing an anti-transgender bill. Hutchinson is prevented from running for governor again by state term restrictions.

Her first television commercial features footage of her father and former President Bill Clinton celebrating the 40th anniversary of desegregation at Little Rock Central High School. It swings quickly to a favorite target, claiming that the “radical left wants to teach our children that America is a racist and evil country”.

Sanders kicked off a nationwide tour this month that included a rally with country singer John Rich that drew 1,000 people and a parade on Lake Ouachita that their campaign said included more than 1,500 boats.

During her stopover in Cabot – a town of around 25,000 people – Sanders received the loudest applause when she spoke about Trump.

“I’m proud to have worked with a president who did exactly what he said,” she said.

Sanders’ only rival in the Republican primary, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, has lagged far behind in fundraising. Sanders reported in July that she had raised $ 9 million since announcing her candidacy, with the majority of the money coming from overseas.

Rutledge says that Sanders’ rhetoric achieved little.

“While my opponent talks about the liberal left in Washington DC, she has done nothing in recent years to combat it effectively,” Rutledge told the AP.

Democrats facing a surge are trying to highlight Sanders’ stay in the White House as a sign that she cannot bring people together.

But in Arkansas, where Trump won by more than 62% of the vote, their bipartisan past is an asset to many. In Cabot, some of the mostly unmasked onlookers wore red Trump hats and shirts depicting the former president.

“All she stands for is just maintaining the American lifestyle, the conservative way of life, safeguarding our rights,” said Kristen Harrington, who works for a honey company in Cabot and wore a shirt that read “Mean Tweets 2024”.

Harold Glenn Earnest, a 96-year veteran of tiny romance, about 30 miles north of Cabot, whom Sanders spoke to at the restaurant, said he was already thinking beyond the governor’s mansion for Sanders.

“She will be the governor. There’s no question about that, ”said Earnest. “I want her to run for the presidency.”

Contributors to this report were Associate Press Writers Kathleen Ronayne, David Pitt, Marc Levy, Michael Catalini, and Sean Murphy.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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