MICHAEL JOHN GRAY Brian Chilson

Updated: Arkansas Democratic Party Chair Michael John Gray announced his plans to resign effective Sept. 1. Vice Chair Nicole Hart will take over until a state committee meeting can be convened to choose a new chairman.

Gray has been the state chair for Arkansas Democrats since 2017. A former state representative, Gray is going to work for Liberty and Justice for Arkansas, described as a nonpartisan group that aims to defeat extremist politicians that divide Arkansas. The group is setting its sights first on Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former Trump flack turned candidate for Arkansas governor.

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“I’m excited about the opportunity to work in a nonpartisan manner to help voters in Arkansas fight against those who seek to win by dividing us. Arkansas deserves better than charlatans and extremists,” Gray said in a press release from Liberty and Justice for Arkansas Monday evening.

Gray made the announcement to party leaders during an Executive Committee meeting on Monday night, followed by an informal meeting of the State Committee.

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Gray’s tenure was marked by personal trials. He lost his seat in the House of Representatives in 2018, and his personal life came under the microscope in 2019. Gray stuck with it through those challenges. On Monday Gray shared his thoughts on his tenure as chairman in a press release from the Democratic Party of Arkansas:

This era in Arkansas politics for Democrats has often been defined as a battle for survival, to keep the flame burning so that the torch can be passed to our next generation of great leaders. We have faced uphill climbs and have not always achieved the electoral successes we wished for, however we have identified and engaged a new group of leaders as more candidates have stepped up over the last four years than we have seen since the change in term limits. … These times demand us to be resilient, to find common ground, and to be unafraid of what obstacles lay ahead. I know that we will continue to do the work, together, and that Arkansas will be better for it.”

Gray entered politics as a city councilman in Augusta, then served two terms in the Arkansas House of Representatives. In his first term, Gray served as the House Minority Leader, from September 2015 to May 2017.

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No word on which Democrats are hoping to be his successor.