Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders elected as the first woman governor of Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Following an unconventional campaign that routinely broke fundraising records, Arkansas voters have chosen former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders as their next governor, according to a race call by The Associated Press.
Sanders, 40, becomes the first woman elected to lead the solidly-Republican state and succeeds outgoing term-limited Gov. Asa Hutchinson. She's due to be inaugurated in January, 16 years after her father Mike Huckabee left office after a 10-year stint as governor.
Sanders' victory was something of a foregone conclusion, despite a recent cancer diagnosis and an earnest challenge from Democratic nominee Chris Jones. In her campaign, Sanders faced criticism for not focusing on Arkansas-specific issues and for limiting access to the press in favor of carefully-scripted rallies and appearances.
In their only debate just weeks before Election Day, Jones, a Baptist minister and MIT-educated scientist, called Sanders out on her perceived lack of transparency and clear policy goals.
"The more we have leaders who are unwilling to show up and answer the tough questions in front of crowds that don't agree with them and with media that don't agree with them, the further we'll get away from the strength of our democracy," Jones said.
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