Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders has reportedly raised $9.27 million for the general election, far more than her Democratic rival Chris Jones has raised, which so far totals $1.91 million.
Sanders collected $1.17 million in contributions from Oct. 1-29, while Jones collected $470,316, according to their latest campaign finance reports.
Along with Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington Jr., Sanders and Jones are vying to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson in Tuesday’s general election. Early voting started Oct. 24 and ends Monday.
Campaign finance reports for candidates for state offices were due in to the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday.
In her report filed Tuesday night, Sanders of Little Rock reported spending $2.44 million from Oct. 1-29. Expenses included $1.3 million for television advertising and $401,888 for direct mail. Sanders’ campaign began what it has described as a $3.5 million paid media campaign on Sept. 3, with its first statewide general election television ad.
Last month's spending boosted Sanders' total expenses for the general election to $5.23 million, leaving a balance of $4 million on Oct. 29. After she raised and spent $13.1 million in the May 24 primary election, she transferred $4.2 million from her primary election campaign to her general election campaign.
In his report filed late Tuesday afternoon, Jones of Little Rock reported spending $595,149 from Oct. 1-29. Expenses included $337,271 for television advertising.
Last month's spending increased Jones' total expenses for the general election to $1.76 million, leaving a balance of $149,478 on Oct. 29. After he raised and spent $1.9 million in the May 24 primary election, he transferred $69,431 from his primary election campaign to his general election campaign.
A campaign finance report for Harrington of Pine Bluff for the period from Oct. 1-29 wasn’t posted on the secretary of state’s website as of Wednesday morning.
Through the end of July, Sanders’ campaign had received about 57% of her total contributions from out-of-state donors listed by name and address in campaign contribution data, according to an analysis by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. State rules don’t require candidates to identify donors of less than $50. In contrast, Jones had received 46% of his contributions from identified out-of-state donors.
The reasons behind Sanders’ out-of-state money, political experts and donors say, include her national profile as a former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump. Her face and statements have been broadcast frequently in national news reports. She also profits from Trump’s endorsement and the continued national presence of her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008.
Asked about out-of-state campaign contributions during the Arkansas PBS debate Oct. 21, Sanders said it’s clear that her message of defending freedom and helping empower every Arkansan “is resonating not just here at home, but frankly across the country.
“I don’t apologize for people supporting me. I certainly don’t apologize for them supporting me from all over the country,” she said.
Sanders said she has traveled to all 75 counties in Arkansas and has seen enthusiasm and excitement for her message.
Asked about out-of-state campaign contributions at the same debate, Jones said it shouldn’t matter where the money comes from.
“What it says is that people are interested in investing in Arkansas,” he said.
“What should matter is what strings are attached to the money, and that’s the question that people have to ask,” Jones said.
Also asked about out-of-state campaign contributions at the debate, Harrington said, “This is a symptom of the machinations of established party power receiving contributions from out of state.
“That’s just a fact,” he said. “You have parties, and parties try to help strong candidates, so they dump money to the candidates that they think will win.”
Harrington said “the strings attached is the real issue.”