LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Former Republican Rep. Asa Hutchinson filed papers to officially enter the Arkansas governor's race, setting up a head-to-head contest with Democratic state Attorney General Mike Beebe.
Hutchinson, 55, said Wednesday the top priority of his campaign would be bringing more and better-paying jobs to Arkansas, and said he also wants to focus on tax reform during the campaign.
Beebe, 59, the only Democrat running for governor, said when he filed papers Tuesday that he would focus on health care, education and jobs. He has raised nearly $2.75 million, more than double the $1.26 million raised by Hutchinson.
Hutchinson, the only Republican running for the office, avoided a primary opponent last year when Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller dropped out of the race for health reasons.
The two-week filing period, which marks the official kickoff of Arkansas' election season, ends Tuesday. Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee cannot seek a third four-year term because of term limits.
Hutchinson portrayed his candidacy as an extension of Huckabee's administration and cited his experience as a congressman, as Homeland Security undersecretary and as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"I know something of the world beyond this building," Hutchinson said at the state Capitol. "And I know something of the world beyond the boundaries of the state of Arkansas."
Democrats have said they're eager to win back the governor's mansion for the first time in a decade. Hutchinson said having a Republican in the governor's office has provided a check against the Democrat-controlled Legislature.