Governor Candidate Debra Hobbs To Run For Lt. Gov. Instead

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State Rep. Debra Hobbs of Rogers is switching from running for governor to seeking the office of lieutenant governor, an inside source said.

Hobbs is scheduled to hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 12) in the Old Supreme Court Room at the Capitol in Little Rock to announce the change. She declared her campaign for governor at a kickoff rally last June in Rogers (pictured at right).

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, state Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, will drop out of the lieutenant governor’s race and seek re-election to his state House seat if U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., who has previously said he won’t seek re-election to Congress, officially announces this week that he is running for lieutenant governor as expected, according to an inside source. Democrat Candy Clark of the Washington County Quorum Court has declared she is running for the House seat Collins now holds.

These developments in the lieutenant governor’s race would pit Hobbs, Griffin and state Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, against one another in the May 20 primary election for that office, which has been vacant since Feb. 1, when Lt. Gov. Mark Darr of Springdale resigned after being fined by the state Ethics Commission for spending violations.

Another Republican, Craig Miller of Newton County, had recently scheduled an announcement at Neal’s Cafe in Springdale to declare he is running for lieutenant governor, but he postponed the announcement because of winter weather. The announcement has not been rescheduled.

Neal’s Cafe is owned by state Rep. Micah Neal, R-Springdale, and is the site of numerous political events, including Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton’s Northwest Arkansas campaign kickoff last year in his race to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

The winner in the GOP lieutenant governor primary is expected to face Democrat John Burkhalter in the Nov. 4 general election.

Hobbs, a three-term Rogers Republican has previously served on the Benton County Quorum Court.

Hobbs’ withdrawal from the governor’s race leaves two Republicans, Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman, vying for the party nomination in the May 20 primary. The winner is expected to face Democrat Mike Ross in the Nov. 4 general election.

— 5NEWS staff members Larry Henry and Shain Bergan contributed to this report.