Governor’s Race: McDaniel Out, Halter In

halter and mcdaniel

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is dropping out of the 2014 governor’s race.

He formally ended his bid Friday (Jan. 25), according to a news release.

Meanwhile, former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, a Democrat, announced a short time later he is entering the governor’s race. Halter lost a Democratic primary election to then-U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., in 2010. She lost her bid for a third term in the November 2010 general election to Republican John Boozman of Rogers.

Roby Brock with Talk Business spoke with McDaniel Friday. “As much as he did not want it to be a distraction this extra marital affair was too much of a distraction for his campaign to keep going,” said Brock. “He just basically said that he is you know working to repair what is broken today.”

Senator Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas) told 5NEWS via Skype he talked to McDaniel Thursday about the decision to drop out. “He understands that he brought this on himself that he has no one to blame but himself, and I think he’s now trying to you know kind of repair that damage with his family.”

On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson said in a story broken early this month by 5NEWS that he expects to enter the 2014 governor’s race. Hutchinson recently was tabbed by the National Rifle Association to spearhead a school safety initiative following the mass shooting in December at a Connecticut elementary school. The NRA is proposing that an armed volunteer be in place at each school in the country.

On Friday, Hutchinson told 5NEWS he is running.

“You can’t be a candidate until you file, but I intend to be a candidate, without question,” he said. “I’m in the race.”

Hutchinson said he welcomes Halter to the race, adding there is still a lot of time for other candidates to enter.

“We’ll have to see who surfaces,” he said.

Central Arkansas businessman Curtis Coleman also is considering a run for governor in the GOP primary election.

In an e-mail to his supporters on Friday, McDaniel, who recently admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs lawyer, explained his decision to leave the race.

“I sought public office to serve my fellow Arkansans and to lead on issues that matter to the State that I love.  I have done that, and I will be forever proud of my record in the legislature and as AG. I had hoped that I could shape the 2014 gubernatorial debate with my vision for the future.  Unfortunately, I am now convinced that if I run for governor, this campaign would be about me personally, rather than Arkansas’s future,” McDaniel said.

“When it comes to our economy, our infrastructure and our schools – Arkansas is at a crossroads.  I believe that we need a visionary to lead our state forward on these critical issues.  Arkansas deserves a campaign that will focus on those issues, so I believe it’s in the best interests of my family, our state and the Democratic Party for me to not run for Governor,” McDaniel continued.

“Bobbi and I want to thank the many people who have encouraged and supported us and continue to lift our family up in prayer. My path lies in doing my job and enjoying my family, not in the chaos of this campaign.  I will spend my last two years as Attorney General focused on issues that matter to Arkansas, like fighting Medicaid fraud, ending the Pulaski County Desegregation case and standing up for consumers.  I pledge that our next Attorney General will inherit one of the most well-run offices in the United States, and I will leave grateful for the tremendous honor of having served,” McDaniel concluded.

McDaniel has faced questions about his future in the race since he admitted to an “inappropriate” relationship last month with attorney Andrea Davis, according to our partners at ArkansasBusiness.com.

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