The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) said he plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2022. This might be welcome news for his critics, as the position comes with no real power or authority, though it has been seen as a stepping stone for higher office.
Rapert was elected to the Senate in 2011 and has since sponsored a bill that brought a privately funded statue of the Ten Commandments to the state capitol, along with several abortion restrictions. When U.S. District Court Judge Kristine Baker heard arguments in July against three abortion restrictions — one of which, if enacted, would have likely caused the only surgical abortion provider in the state to close — Rapert could be seen sitting in the back row in the courtroom, writing fervently in a notebook. On July 23, Baker granted a 14-day restraining order to temporarily block the restrictions from taking effect.
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The senator told the Democrat-Gazette he’s not planning a formal announcement for his run until after the 2020 presidential election.
Rapert, who has served in the state Senate since 2011, said he has been pressed by several people in recent weeks about his plans for 2022 and “I really wanted to settle the rumor and say yes this is my plan at this time,” rather than running for re-election to the Senate.
“I am ready to contribute at another level. I think there is more that I can do. I would love to support the next governor,” he said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette this morning.
Lt. Gov Tim Griffin has served in the position since 2015, and he’s unable to run for re-election due to term restrictions. He’s expected to mount a gubernatorial campaign.