FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — With polls in Arkansas open until 7:30 p.m., the race at the top of every ballot is the one to choose Governor Asa Hutchinson’s successor.

Whoever wins will make history in The Natural State, as Arkansas has never elected a woman or an African American to the position.

Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr. 37, is the Libertarian candidate and he lives in Pine Bluff. He was the first Black man to run for Senate in Arkansas, and the first Libertarian candidate in the nation to secure one-third of the vote.

He is a pastor at Mount Beulah Christian Church in Pine Bluff and he has a bachelor’s degree in ministry from Harding University. His prior experience includes the following:

  • Served a year-long mission in Scotland, 2007-2008
  • Served a two-year mission in China, 2014-2016
  • Arkansas Department of Corrections, prison chaplain, 2016-2018
  • Treatment coordinator at Cummins Unit, 2018-2020

On his campaign website, Harrington says he joined the race “as a servant leader and advocate of liberty, equality, and abundance for all Arkansans.”

I have spent my entire adult life dedicated to serving others. I have traveled across Europe and Asia learning languages and cultures with the goal of transforming people’s lives. I have dedicated my life to peace making and that is what we need from leadership in our country and state. My campaign is a small campaign, I do my own media relations and run my own campaign.  I do not have the infrastructure that the major party candidates have, and that is ok. If the People see this ‘nobody’ with solutions competing on the same level as major party candidates on the debate stage, surely I can prove to the People I am capable of being governor. 

Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., Libertarian candidate for Governor

Dr. Chris Jones, 46, is the Democrat candidate after securing nearly 73% of the party vote in a five-candidate field in the primary and he lives in Little Rock. He is the state’s first African American major party gubernatorial nominee.

He is the former executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. He has a bachelor’s degree in physics and math from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, a master’s degree in technology and policy, and a doctoral degree in urban studies and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His public service experience includes the following:

  • Former executive director of Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
  • Former mayor of Pine Bluff Youth Council
  • Former board member at the National Center for Healthy Housing
  • Former board member at the Museum of Discovery
  • Former board member at Arkansas PBS
  • Former assistant dean for Graduate Education at MIT
  • Former high school algebra teacher, Media and Technology Charter School

“My opponent has no leadership experience,” Jones told KNWA/FOX24. “And, respectfully, you can’t do this job by Zoom. You actually have to be here, working hard, every day.”

This election offers an opportunity to choose unity and community over division and chaos. As governor, I will bring people together and ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. I have walked alongside neighbors in all 75 Arkansas counties, always listening to identify what matters most to Arkansans. We will change what it means to govern in Arkansas – by listening and learning, by leading inclusively in a way that doesn’t prioritize whether you have “D,” “R” or “I” next to your name, and by sharing our vision to unlock Arkansas’ potential.

Dr. Chris Jones, Democrat candidate for Governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 40, is the first female Republican party nominee for Arkansas governor after receiving over 83% of the party’s primary vote. She lives in Little Rock.

Huckabee Sanders is a consultant and author, and she has a bachelor’s degree in political science and mass communications from Ouachita Baptist University. Her public service experience consists of:

  • U.S. Department of Education, 2004-2006
  • National political director for her father, Gov. Mike Huckabee, 2007-2008
  • Campaign manager, Sen. John Boozman, 2010
  • Senior advisor to Sen. Tom Cotton, 2014
  • White House Press Secretary, 2017-2019
  • Fulbright Board, 2019-present

Her website notes that she was a “trusted confidant of the President” and that she “advised him on everything from press and communications strategy to personnel and policy.”

Huckabee Sanders did not respond to KNWA/FOX24’s request to comment.

The three candidates have wildly different backgrounds, from education to experience. It is up to the voters to decide which unique combination adds up to be the best option for Governor of Arkansas.

Early voting in the state began on October 24 and the general election is on November 8. KNWA/FOX24 is your local election headquarters and you can keep up on all of our election coverage here.