Sarah Huckabee Sanders

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders (born 1982) is a Republican politician in the state of Arkansas. She was the White House Press Secretary under President Donald Trump, and is the GOP nominee for Governor of Arkansas in the 2022 elections.

She is the youngest child, and only daughter, of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. She is married with three children.

She is frequently the target of "tolerant liberals" for her physical appearance (Chelsea Handler frequently does this) and her treatment of the hostile lamestream media. She was even criticized for a picture of a home-made pie by liberals who insisted that it was a stock photo.

In 2020 she announced her candidacy for Governor of Arkansas (the current Governor is term-limited and will have to leave office in 2023). As Arkansas is now a solidly Republican state, her main challenge was to win the primaries. Having maintained a decisive lead during the first stages of campaigning, she won the state's primary election on May 24, 2022.[1] Should she win, she would become the first female Governor of the state, she and her father would be the first parent/child duo to have served, and she would be only the second family member of a prior Governor to also serve (following the brothers James and Elias Conway).

Early Life

Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee was born in the town of Hope in southwest Arkansas on August 13, 1982, to Mike and Janet Huckabee (Hope is also the birthplace of the elder Huckabee, as well as of Democratic politician Bill Clinton). After her father entered state politics, Sarah moved with the rest of her family to Little Rock, where she graduated from Central High School in 2000. She then attended Ouachita Baptist University, where she was elected student body president, and graduated in 2004 with a B.A. in political science.

By the time she completed college, Huckabee had already been active in politics for a long time. During her father's unsuccessful bid for election to the U.S. Senate in 1992, she had filled envelopes with campaign literature (despite still being in elementary school at the time), and while at Ouachita Baptist was an active participant in the college's Republican organizations. In 2002, as her father (successfully) sought election to a second full term as Arkansas governor, Huckabee worked as field coordinator for his campaign.

Political Consultant

During President George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign, Huckabee worked as his field director in the state of Ohio. She later worked for a time as a regional liaison for congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Education.

After Mike Huckabee announced his intention to run in the 2008 presidential campaign, Sarah went to work as his national political director. It proved to be anything but a figurehead role; a Time magazine profile in 2007 noted that she was "working up to 90 hours a week, running her father's schedule and event briefings...in addition, she [oversaw] outreach and [acted] as her Dad's surrogate in Iowa." The elder Huckabee's surprise win in the Iowa caucuses was widely attributed in part to his daughter's efforts.[2] When the Huckabee campaign was suspended later that year, Sarah became the director of Huck PAC, a political action committee aimed at electing more conservatives to public office. (During the campaign, Huckabee also met Bryan Sanders, a fellow political consultant; the two would marry in 2010.)

For the 2010 congressional midterm elections, Sanders joined the Senate campaign of then-U.S. Congressman John Boozman as his campaign manager. Developing a strategy that presented the Democratic incumbent, Blanche Lincoln, as a "solid vote for President Obama," the Boozman campaign achieved a landslide victory; due to this and her earlier work, Sanders was named one of Time's "40 under 40" for 2010. The following year, she joined the political consulting firm Tsamoutales Strategies, based in Tallahassee, Florida, remaining with the group until 2015.[3] In 2014, she repeated her performance of four years earlier by working as an advisor for then-U.S. Congressman Tom Cotton in his successful Senate campaign against Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor.

In 2015 and 2016, Sanders was briefly involved with the campaigns of her father, again seeking Republican nomination for President, and then of Missouri businessman John Brunner, running for governor of that state; both were short-lived and unsuccessful. As early as February 2016, she had joined the presidential campaign of Donald Trump as a senior advisor, but was only heavily involved with it during the last few months before the election, when she worked on the communications staff, coordinating with various religious and military organizations.[4] She also distinguished herself by pointing out to the media Hillary Clinton's dependence on gender politics in her own campaign, telling ABC News, "Clinton's biggest thing that she's running on is the fact that she's a woman."[5]

Press Secretary

On January 19, 2017, the day before Trump's inauguration as President, Sanders was announced as the incoming Deputy White House Press Secretary. Over the next several months, her role in dealing with the national media expanded, especially with Press Secretary Sean Spicer absenting himself in May for Naval Reserve duties. Behind closed doors, Trump was said to be impressed with Sanders' eloquent defense of him in media interviews before the election, and she quickly became an important confidante, especially as a representative of the evangelical Christian community. With a shakeup in the White House staff in July 2017--including the appointment of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director and the permanent departure of Spicer--Sanders was named as the new Press Secretary on July 21.[6]

Sanders was a strenuous defender of President Trump during her tenure, rejecting the various smear campaigns conducted by the media, which she once publicly described as the "enemy of the people." As a result, she was frequently attacked as well. Besides questioning her honesty, pundits and entertainment figures launched vicious personal attacks, with comedienne Chelsea Handler (among others) ridiculing her physical appearance. Even many liberals, however, reluctantly considered her a more effective press secretary than her predecessor; Paige Williams of The New Yorker, though quick to call Sanders overly aggressive and a threat to the freedom of the press, acknowledged that she was highly competent at communicating Trump's ideas to the Republican base and combatting the press on his behalf, going so far as to call Sanders the President's "battering ram."[7]

In June 2019, Sanders announced she was stepping down as press secretary; though her relationship with the press had become more antagonistic in recent months, she publicly insisted that her resignation was for family reasons, as the stresses of working at the White House and of raising three young children with her husband were not compatible. However, Trump was said to already be urging her to run for Arkansas governor in the next (2022) election.[8] Sanders' memoir of her time working at the White House, titled Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives inside the Trump White House, was published in September 2020.

Gubernatorial Campaign

With the incumbent governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, prohibited by term limits from running again in 2022, and increasingly unpopular with grassroots conservatives for his left-leaning stance on many issues, Sanders, like many Republican politicians in the state, began exploring a campaign for the office early on. On January 25, 2021, she officially announced her candidacy.[9]

Immediately endorsed by Trump, Sanders joined what was initially a broad field of candidates for the Republican nomination, including Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Her close ties with Trump gave her a strong advantage at once, however, as did her name recognition as a member of the Huckabee family, and some of her more competitive rivals, such as Griffin and Rutledge, eventually dropped out to seek other state offices. On May 24, 2022, Sanders won the Republican primary election with approximately 83.4% of the vote (127,678 out of 153,181 ballots cast). She will face Democratic candidate Chris Jones in the general election on November 8, 2022.[10]

References

See also