PINE BLUFF (Talk Business & Politics) — Chris Jones, the former executive director of Winrock International's Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, announced his Democratic candidacy for Arkansas governor on Tuesday.
Jones, 44, who stepped down in May from his position at Winrock International, is the fourth person to announce a Democratic campaign for governor. Baptist minister Anthony Bland, political newcomer James “Rus” Russell and businesswoman Supha Xayprasith-Mays are also vying for the nomination. Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington also plans to run for governor.
Jones is a seventh-generation Arkansan. He opened his campaign in his native town of Pine Bluff and in a launch video released on social media.
“The last few years have shown how much political division can tear us apart. The reality of this moment in our nation’s history is that if we want our politics to be different, we have to be different. Other candidates may try to divide us in this election. But I’m not running for governor to fight a culture war or to go on cable news. I’m here to bring Arkansans back together with a campaign that brings out our best,” he said.
Jones’ brother, Leon Jones, announced earlier this year that he would pursue the GOP nomination for Arkansas Attorney General.
As the director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, Chris Jones developed programs that address social inequities, reached under served communities in every corner of the state, and inspired innovation and entrepreneurship, he said.
He also said his efforts at the helm of the Hub supported small business owners across the state and provided job training to support access to the workforce. Among several other programs he led, he also helped students develop technical skills, receive mentorships, and increase literacy. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones organized a team of more than 260 Arkansas makers to help make and supply critically needed PPE.
“I’m in this race because Arkansas needs a governor focused on solutions, not politics. I’m in this race to rebuild our infrastructure, to invest in healthcare and education, to extend access to rural broadband, and to give Arkansans the tools we need to compete,” he said. “I’m running because we want a governor focused on healthy families and thriving neighborhoods – not what’s happening in Washington. I’m in this race because the people of Arkansas deserve a voice and a governor who will listen.”
Former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, is running against state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge for the Republican nomination. A recent poll found that Arkansas voters have a more favorable opinion of Sanders than Rutledge.
Current Gov. Asa Hutchinson is term-limited.