Former GOP Rep. Asa Hutchinson intends to run in the 2014 Arkansas governor's election, he told the Arkansas News Bureau Friday. "My wife Susan and I are very excited about that opportunity to once again serve this great state," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson's name has been swirling around the race for months, and he had been expected to make a formal announcement about the race this month. Hutchinson is seen as the likely GOP frontrunner, with many in the state's Republican establishment already lining up behind him. He previously ran for governor in 2006 against Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and lost. But state Republicans, invigorated from historic gains at the state and federal level, have made recapturing the governor's mansion a top target in 2014 and Hutchinson would likely have a fundraising advantage with name identification built up from previous runs.
An internal poll released in December by Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel showed Hutchinson with a 44 to 41 percent lead against McDaniel in a potential general election match-up. Additionally, Safe Food CEO Curtis Coleman filed papers for an exploratory committee this week and is expected to make an announcement this summer if he decides to run. Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Darr has also expressed interest in the race.
Hutchinson has been in the news recently after being named the NRA's point person on their response to the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut -- developing a security plan that would put armed guards in schools.