Sarah Sanders, former White House press secretary under the Trump administration, announced on Thursday, April 15, that her campaign for governor of Arkansas had raised nearly $5 million, smashing the state’s quarterly fundraising record.

Her campaign said that out-of-state donors contributed the bulk of the more than $4.8 million raised in the first three months of the year. Arkansans, meanwhile, contributed more than $1.5 million to the total.

According to campaign officials, the campaign received over 34,700 contributions in the first quarter, with an average contribution level of under $97 per donation and 90% of donations being $100 or less.

Sanders’ campaign began in January and already claimed to have hosted more than 50 events in Arkansas in the first quarter. “I am grateful for the generous support of so many Arkansans—in 60 days, we held over 50 events in Arkansas and received more than 6,500 donations across all 75 counties of the state.” 

In a statement released by her campaign, Sanders said, “Our message of limiting government and advancing education and opportunity is clearly resonating.” 

In the Republican primary, the longtime White House spokesman will face Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Rutledge announced that $1,232,270.01 had been collected to Thursday afternoon.

Over 80% of Rutledge’s fundraising came from Arkansas supporters, according to campaign officials.

“If elected Governor, I will lead our state with the same mindset I have had as the Attorney General—Arkansas first and Arkansas focused,” Rutledge said in a release. “I am always humbled by the continued financial support from voters all across the state. However, no amount of money can replace the experience, judgment, and proven record I have gained over the past six and half years making decisions on behalf of three million-plus Arkansans every day. I remain committed to making Arkansas first and will always be more concerned about what is happening in Fort Smith, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Pine Bluff rather than in New York and Florida.”

In next year’s Republican primary, Sanders will face Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for the job of succeeding two-term GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is not eligible to run for reelection due to term limits. Tim Griffin, the Republican lieutenant governor, dropped out of the race two weeks after Sanders entered it and is now running for attorney general.

Sanders hauled more money than Rutledge, who raised $198,000 in the same period and has accumulated $1.2 million since her campaign began last year. Rutledge’s campaign said that Arkansas residents contributed 80% of the funds.

Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, served as chief spokeswoman in former President Donald Trump’s administration from 2017 to 2019. In January, she announced her candidacy for governor in an online video that starred the former president and repeated his rhetoric, pledging to battle the “radical left” in the solidly red state.

Two other Democrats, Supha Xayprasith-Mays and James “Rus” Russell, are also running for governor next year.

According to Sanders’ campaign, Trump has appeared at two of her fundraising events. Her campaign said she had $3.8 million in cash on hand for her campaign and spent $943,000 in the first quarter.

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