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Gubernatorial candidates Sanders, Jones urge supporters at Little Rock appearances to get to polls

State gubernatorial candidates woo voters as election nears by Michael R. Wickline | October 31, 2022 at 4:48 a.m.
At left, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones talks with campaign supporters before canvassing Sunday afternoon in southwest Little Rock. At right, Republican gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders (center) greets supporters after a campaign speech at the Delta Hotel on Sunday in Little Rock. (Left, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff; right, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Colin Murphey)

With the Nov. 8 general election nearing, Republican gubernatorial nominee Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday night held a rally in west Little Rock and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Jones visited churches and canvassed voters on the same day.

"We have seen tremendous enthusiasm and excitement because people are ready for a new generation of leadership here in Arkansas," Sanders told an estimated 250 people who attended a get-out-the-vote rally at the Delta Hotel as part of what she has called the Freedom Tour.

"The most important thing you can do over the next nine days is to make sure you get out and vote," she said. "You need to send a clear, strong message who Arkansas is and what we are about. Let's make sure that Nov. 8 is a huge celebration."

Sanders spoke at the rally and then chatted and took pictures with many of her supporters before departing the event without taking questions from reporters covering the rally.

Earlier in the day, Jones and about a dozen others canvassed neighborhoods near Longley Baptist Church on Geyer Springs Road in Little Rock.

Jones visited churches Sunday in Altheimer, Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pine Bluff, and canvassed voters near St. Theresa's Catholic Church on Baseline Road in Little Rock. He also canvassed voters in west Little Rock with state Rep. Ashley Hudson, D-Little Rock, Jones spokesman Clint Schaff said.

"The energy is good," Jones said in an interview.

"People feel excited," he said. "People know what is happening and what is going on. They are ready for change. I have always said it's almost the Nolan Richardson approach, 40 minutes of hell, pushing hard from the very beginning ..."

One of the canvassers assisting Jones was A.J. Gutierrez of Boston, co-founder of Saga Education, a nonprofit that describes itself as a national leader in high-impact, in-school tutoring that leverages the power of human capital and technology to accelerate student outcomes and create more equitable learning for students.

Gutierrez said Jones was an inspiration for him when Jones was his counselor in 2002, so he traveled to Arkansas to spend this weekend volunteering for Jones' campaign.

"I just wanted to show some support," he said.

"Chris is a special person and extraordinary leader," Gutierrez said. "It is 100% worth it to come and support someone who had such a big impact on me and my peers."

At Sanders' rally in west Little Rock, Rajesh Chokhani of the Arkansas Indian American Political Action Committee said he supports Sanders' bid for governor because he believes she will be a good leader with the potential to take the state to the next level in education, workforce, technology and in fighting crime.

He said he's interested in Sanders' stated aim to phase out the state income tax.

"Every businessman in this room wants that to be phased out," Chokhani said.

Asked whether that's realistic, he said "nothing is impossible in this world."

Sanders, Jones and Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. are vying to succeed Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the Nov. 8 general election.

Asked how he was spending Sunday, Harrington said that "For me, it is a lot of e-campaigning with the resources I have."

"My next event will be a nonpartisan forum at Hendrix College Nov. 2nd," he said in an email.

The latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 974 likely Arkansas voters showed Sanders leading Jones by a 51% to 41% margin with Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington getting 3% and undecided voters at 5%.

The poll was conducted Oct. 17-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Jones said if one combines unlikely voters, independents and Republicans who are not comfortable with Sanders, "you've got a race."

"No one expected us to be in this position right now," he said.

Jones attributed that to "a lot of hard work" and listening to Arkansans.

"The No. 1 reason is God," he said. "It is not a political thing to say. It is a mathematical thing to say. I can only put stuff out there. I can't change the hearts and minds of people, and then you see the folks who should not be supporting Chris Jones based on the narrative and they are all in. It's a combination of all that."

Asked about the Talk Business & Politics survey, Sanders spokesman Judd Deere said Sunday night in a text message that "Sarah spoke directly with hundreds of Arkansans today about our plans to unleash our state's full potential, something she is going to continue to do in these final nine days."

"The only poll that matters is on Election Day, and Arkansans know that Sarah is the leader and fighter Arkansas needs now more than ever, so we expect a big victory," Deere said.

In addition to Sunday's rally in Little Rock, Sanders' campaign last week announced she will hold get-out-the vote rallies Thursday in Jonesboro and Mountain Home, Friday in Siloam Springs, and Nov. 7 in Fort Smith and Little Rock.

Jones said the next week will be "a full-court press, be everywhere."

He said his campaign in the next few days will release the route that he will visit throughout the state in the last five days of the campaign, including areas of the state in which there hasn't been a high turnout historically, to encourage people to vote.

Print Headline: Sanders, Jones make final push


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