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Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders has won, Decision Desk HQ projects, making her the first woman to be elected governor of Arkansas.
Sanders, who has not held elected office before, had been favored to win in a state that voted overwhelmingly for former President Donald Trump in 2020. A White House press secretary under Trump and the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders entered the race for governor with enough political clout and name recognition to clear the primary field.
Sanders succeeds a term-limited Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also a Republican. She has campaigned in part on issues that include addressing K-12 education gaps and phasing out the state income tax. She has been a prolific fundraiser, bringing in $8 million this election cycle.
Sanders has also not shied away from talking about her time working with Trump, who remains a towering figure in the Republican Party and a potential presidential contender in 2024 even as he faces legal challenges and questions about his role in the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump also continues to lie about widespread election fraud in the 2020 election, which has been debunked.
Sanders has expressed some doubt about the 2020 election. She told the Texarkana Gazette ahead of the May primary, “I don’t think we’ll ever know the depths of how much fraud existed.”
Sanders highlighted working with Trump as recently as mid-October during a fundraising rally in Iowa for Sen. Joni Ernst.
In September, Sanders announced that she had surgery to remove her thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes to address a thyroid cancer diagnosis. She says she is now cancer free.