LITTLE ROCK — With the governor’s race entering the final stretch, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson announced Friday the launch of a coalition of female supporters called Women for Asa.

LITTLE ROCK — With the governor’s race entering the final stretch, Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson announced Friday the launch of a coalition of female supporters called Women for Asa.


Hutchinson made the announcement in a luncheon in Little Rock where he was joined by his wife, Susan, their daughter, Sarah, and Republican U.S. Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee.


Hutchinson said the coalition would make "a big difference in this campaign."


He also cited a Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll conducted earlier this month that showed him with an 8-point lead over Democrat Mike Ross among likely voters and a 1-point lead over Ross among women. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.2 percent.


"Whether you’re talking about computer coding (in schools) or whether you’re talking about tax relief, the six points of Asa’s Plan for growing the economy of Arkansas is not about one gender. It’s about all Arkansans," he said.


Black said, "I love seeing this many women in the room. Look, you guys are great too, but we know that women are really hard workers and they will get the vote out and they will make phone calls and they will knock on doors."


Hutchinson was asked after the event if he believed any of positions have special appeal for women. He said he believes women and men both want choices in education, lower taxes and job growth.


"I don’t think there’s necessarily ‘women’s issues.’ And that’s what we communicated today: It is that my plan for economic growth is for everyone, and women are a key part of that obviously and a big economic driver, and I think they respond to that," he said.


Hutchinson also said that in every office he has held, "I’ve utilized the incredible talents of women in key leadership positions."


Ross said Friday, "We’ve got strong support among women in Arkansas."


"I’ve got a plan to protect and empower survivors of domestic violence, I’ve got a plan for equal pay for equal work to ensure that our daughters are paid the same as our sons," Ross said. "I think I’ve got the best vision for the future of this state on women’s issues."


He added, "It sounds like he’s just copying what we did a few weeks ago when First Lady Ginger Beebe and my wife Holly and my daughter Sydney joined me for a Women for Ross event. He seems to do that a lot: Copy whatever we do a few weeks later."


Ross spoke to reporters after giving a talk at the Arkansas Association of Continuing and Adult Education and Arkansas Literary Councils Conference in Little Rock.


He told the group that in contrast to Hutchinson, who has promised to begin cutting income taxes in his first year in office, he will implement his tax-cut plan only as the state can afford it — the same approach, he said, that Gov. Mike Beebe has taken in reducing the state sales tax on groceries.


"Folks, we can do these things, but we can do them in a fiscally responsible way. We can do them without cutting your budget," he said.


Hutchinson has said he will maintain the state’s commitment to education and that cuts to education are off the table.


Early voting began Monday for the Nov. 4 election. Also running to replace the term-limited Beebe are Green Party candidate Joshua Drake and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.


Hutchinson and Ross have been criss-crossing the state as the race enters its final days, Hutchinson on an Asa Plan Tour and Ross on a Jobs First Tour.


Hutchinson said he visited four cities Thursday and made multiple stops in each city. Ross said he visited seven cities Thursday. Both said their energy levels remain high.


"We have no problem going the distance on this," Hutchinson said.


"I’m just getting started," Ross said.