LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and the state's four U.S. House members on Friday endorsed Sarah Sanders' bid for governor, days after the former White House press secretary's path to the Republican nomination was cleared.
Hutchinson, who is barred by term limits from running for reelection, praised Sanders and said he's known her most of her life. Sanders became the only Republican left running for governor on Tuesday after Attorney General Leslie Rutledge dropped her bid. Several Democrats are also running for governor.
“Sarah has earned the Republican nomination and I’m delighted today to endorse her for governor," Hutchinson said in a statement. “The state of Arkansas will be in good hands with Sarah as governor, and she has my full support.”
Sanders is running with former President Donald Trump's endorsement and is campaigning primarily on national issues. Hutchinson has been in the national spotlight by distancing himself from the former president.
Sanders has been lining up endorsements from the state's top Republicans since Rutledge's exit from the race. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin — who dropped out of the governor's race in February — on Friday also backed her bid, and Sanders later endorsed Griffin's candidacy for attorney general.
U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack on Friday endorsed Sanders' bid, while Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman earlier this week backed her.
Hutchinson's nephew, state Sen. Jim Hendren, said Friday he hasn't ruled out running as an independent for governor. Hendren in February left the Republican Party to become an independent.
“It seems like every month somebody changes what they're running for, so we're going to let the dust settle a little bit," Hendren said.