Speculation that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders could run for governor in her home state of Arkansas is shaking up a race three years away that was already expected to attract a crowd of Republican candidates.

President Donald Trump encouraged Sanders to run for governor when he announced her departure as press secretary on Thursday. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was re-elected in November and the seat will open up in 2022 when he’s barred by term limits from running again.

Sanders hasn’t ruled out running for office when she returns to Arkansas. GOP leaders in the state say she has strong name recognition and connections. Her father is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hugs President Donald Trump after announcing she will be leaving her position during an event on second chance hiring and criminal justice reform in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders hugs President Donald Trump after announcing she will be leaving her position during an event on second chance hiring and criminal justice reform in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 13, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)