Burkhalter’s In; Other Names Emerge

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Arkansas Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter announced Tuesday (June 11) he is running for lieutenant governor in the 2014 election.

The 56-year-old Democrat said in a conference call with reporters he wants to expand business growth within the state and bring jobs in from outside.

Burkhalter said when he launched a piping company early in his career he couldn’t obtain a bank loan and had to make a go of it “without bankers.” The experience taught him that business people sometimes need help in getting off the ground, he said.

“This is the exact reason I am running for lieutenant governor,” he said.

Burkhalter’s term on the highway commission will expire in January 2017. He told reporters he will remain on the commission during the campaign.

During the conference call, Burkhalter declined to say whether he would spend his own money in the election but added his campaign would “have the resources” to win.

“I’ve got a lot of support,” he said.

Also Tuesday, Little Rock School Board President Dianne Curry, a Democrat, announced she is running for lieutenant governor.

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, a Republican, has told 5NEWS he plans on moving from Springdale into South Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District and is strongly considering running for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. Darr’s Springdale house is for sale.

Cotton is expected to announce this summer that he is challenging U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in the 2014 election.

Others said to be considering a run for lieutenant governor include Reps. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, Kelley Linck, R-Yellville, and Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley. Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, had been considered a potential candidate but recently announced on Facebook he is running for re-election.

During the conference call Tuesday, Burkhalter said he had considered running for governor before deciding on the lieutenant governor’s race.

Many political observers consider the governor’s race to be crowded already with formidable candidates. On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, state Rep. Debbie Hobbs and Central Arkansas businessman Curtis Coleman are running. The Democratic candidates are former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross and former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.