Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders raised about $1.1 million in contributions from Oct. 1-29 to boost her total for the general election to $9.2 million, while Democratic opponent Chris Jones collected about $470,300 in contributions to boost his total for the general election to $1.9 million, 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 the secretary of state's office Tuesday.
In her report filed Tuesday night, Sanders of Little Rock reported raising $1.17 million in contributions and spending $2.44 million in the period from Oct. 1-29.
The expenses reported from Oct. 1-29 include $1.3 million for television advertising, $401,888 for direct mail, $226,394 for "other advertising" besides $39,275 in newspaper advertising, and $150,000 in transfers to the Republican Party of Arkansas. Sanders spokesman Judd Deere said "The Sarah for Governor campaign transferred money to the Republican Party of Arkansas to support 2022 election efforts."
Sanders' campaign began what it has described as a $3.5 million media campaign with its first statewide general election television ad Sept. 3.
Campaign contributions and expenses for Sanders in the period from Oct. 1-29 boosted the total money she has raised for the general election to $9.27 million and her 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.
Sanders said Wednesday in a written statement that "Thousands of Arkansans continue to generously invest in this campaign and are ready for a governor to defend their freedoms and fight for opportunity for all.
"With Election Day less than a week away, our supporters are energized, momentum is on our side, and we are working toward a big victory on November 8."
In his report filed late Tuesday afternoon, Jones of Little Rock reported raising $470,316 in contributions and spending $595,149 in the period from Oct. 1-29. The expenses reported for this period included $337,271 for television advertising and $31,128 for "other advertising," and $110,553 in consulting fees.
The contributions and expenses for Jones increased the total contributions he has raised for the general election to $1.91 million and his 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 the primary election campaign to the general election campaign.
Jones spokesman Clint Schaff said Wednesday, "We are thankful to the growing numbers of Arkansans enthusiastically supporting our message of spreading opportunity across the state, especially the donors -- big and small -- that fuel the campaign.
"We're also thankful for the recent burst of donations from political independents and Republicans who have joined our effort to unlock the promise of Arkansas," he said in a written statement. "With more than $3.8M raised total, we've invested in building a statewide network of supporters, and that investment is paying off."
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 early Wednesday night.
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 White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, with her face and statements 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 an Arkansas PBS debate on 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 she has seen the enthusiasm and excitement for her message.
Asked about out-of-state campaign contributions at the Arkansas PBS 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.
Asked about out-of-state campaign contributions at the Arkansas PBS 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."