New Names Surface in Governor’s Race

politics

Central Arkansas businessman Curtis Coleman recently declared on his Facebook page, “Let Arkansas Prosper,” that he is announcing his campaign this month for the 2014 governor’s race.

The announcement is set for Feb. 21 at 11 a.m at the state Capitol in Little Rock. The first 200 attendees will receive a free Coleman campaign T-shirt, according to a Facebook post.

Coleman is president of Coleman Global, identified on LinkedIn as a management consulting firm, and is president of The Curtis Coleman Institute for Constitutional Policy. He is also a co-founder and past president and CEO of Safe Foods Corp.

Coleman ran in the 2010 U.S. Senate GOP primary election, finishing fifth in an eight-person field, capturing 4.9 percent of the vote, records show. The primary election winner, John Boozman of Rogers, defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., in the general election.

Another Republican, Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman, also has said he is running in the 2014 governor’s race.

Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, is prohibited by term limits from running again.

At a breakfast speech in Fayetteville on Feb. 1, Hutchinson said candidates in Arkansas wanting to run in the 2014 race will need a fundraising “entry fee” of $5 million.

Hutchinson has not formally entered the race or set a date for a formal announcement but has said he is running.

“You can’t be a candidate until you file, but I intend to be a candidate, without question,” he told 5NEWS recently. “I’m in the 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 the Democratic side, former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter filed the articles of incorporation on Jan. 30 allowing him to organize and finance a campaign for governor.

Halter filed paperwork establishing the nonprofit organization “Bill Halter for Arkansas” permitting him to organize the campaign.

He said a formal campaign kickoff will be announced later.

Halter declared his intention to enter the governor’s race on Jan. 25, immediately after Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he is dropping out.

Halter lost a divisive Democratic primary election to Lincoln in 2010. She lost her bid for a third term in the November 2010 general election to Boozman.

McDaniel, who recently admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs lawyer, said in an e-mail to supporters if he ran for governor “this campaign would be about me personally, rather than Arkansas’ future.”

Hutchinson has 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.

Among those named in a recent Arkansas Times “Rumor Mill” infographic as potential candidates is Conner Eldridge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas.

Eldridge, who works in Fort Smith and is a Democrat, said he is only focused right now on his job pursing criminal suspects.

“I  really love the job,” he said.

Eldridge would not say whether he is leaving open the possibility of running for governor or attorney general, but added he values being a public servant.

“I always want to be involved in serving our state,” he said.

Another whose name was mentioned in Arkansas Times, an alternative newsweekly published in Little Rock, is Mike Malone, a Democrat and president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council.

In a cellphone text, Malone told 5NEWS he has received encouragement to consider running for an office statewide. He said he has not ruled out the possibility.

“Since the McDaniel announcement, most of the encouragement has been around the race for governor,” he said. “I appreciate being mentioned, and I’ll sure think about it over the next few weeks. But I’m not ready to make a decision about this or any other statewide race right now.”

Other names being mentioned in political circles as potential candidates include Sens. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, and Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis.

Another person often mentioned as a likely candidate is state Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter.

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