Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, will square off against Democrat Jared Henderson in November after Tuesday’s primaries decided both men’s fate on the fall ticket. Libertarian Mark West of Batesville also will be on the general election ballot in November.
According to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website on Wednesday, Hutchinson defeated Jan Morgan by a vote of 139,542 to 60,875 on Tuesday with 98 percent of state precincts reporting.
Henderson defeated Leticia Sanders 65,683 to 39,951 with 100 percent reporting, according to the SOS.
In Jefferson County, complete but unofficial results for Henderson were 3,650, while Sanders received 3,217 votes.
Hutchinson received 808 votes in the county, while Jan Morgan received 452.
During a recent visit to The Commercial, Henderson, who owns and operates a medical clinic with his wife in Little Rock, said his top priority is education. And even if he doesn’t get elected, he vowed to continue working on the issue as a private citizen.
According to his campaign, “Arkansas teachers are often unheard, undervalued, and underpaid. This campaign has a central goal on education: In 10 years, Arkansas should be the best state in the country to be a public school teacher.”
There has been a 56 percent drop in the number of people entering the teaching profession since 2009, according to Henderson’s campaign.
“For our state to have the best and the brightest future, we have to attract the best and the brightest to the teaching profession and celebrate and retain our talented educators who are already in it,” according to his campaign.
“We need to make sure we have a great human being in every classroom who has the training and resources they deserve, and then we need to get out of their way. If we do that, we have a fighting shot at building an excellent Arkansas education system that works for every kid. If we don’t achieve that, it’s going to be hard to get there.”
Henderson also said that “there are great people in schools in critical positions, we just have to stop the paperwork. So many teachers tell me they are buried in paperwork and can’t focus on teaching. It sucks up their time and energy, and makes newcomers not want to go into the profession. If we can make some progress in education, other things can happen.”
Another major issue for Henderson is small business development. While everyone wants major manufacturers to locate in Arkansas, he said, “that only benefits a handful of communities. We have to do more to provide money to small businesses and offer them access to healthcare. We have to create more jobs in the small business sector.”
According to his campaign, “Our rural communities are filled with smart and innovative people who have the vision and the courage to step up and build a new business in their local economy. What they usually don’t have is the money to get started, access to health insurance while their family takes the risk, and the first few hours of basic business training that would give them a fighting shot as they act on their dreams. These are solvable problems – and if we can come together to address them, we will empower countless Arkansans to create new and better jobs across the state.”
Meanwhile, on the GOP side, President Donald Trump endorsed Hutchinson shortly before Tuesday’s vote, on Twitter writing that the first-term governor has done an “incredible job” on tax cuts, border security and crime prevention. Hutchinson was first elected in 2014.
He dwarfed Morgan in fundraising and was heavily favored in Tuesday’s primary. Morgan has accused Hutchinson of not being conservative enough on a host of issues, including tax cuts and health care.
Hutchinson was among a group of Republican governors who dined with the president in Washington Monday night to discuss immigration.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.