Nicole Hart steps up as interim chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas. Democratic Party of Arkansas

An Iraq war veteran who served in state government during the Mike Beebe administration will lead Arkansas Democrats in the aftermath of long-time Chairman Michael John Gray’s resignation.

Nicole Hart took up the post today. An election to choose a new chairperson is scheduled for October.

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In a press release from the Democratic Party of Arkansas, Hart said that while stepping into this role wasn’t necessarily penciled in on her calendar, she’s ready to do the work of teeing Democratic candidates up for 2022 elections.

“Service has always defined my life and it hasn’t always been at a time of my choosing. As a person of faith, Iraq War veteran, wife, and mother, it has long been this way. Always In Service has defined who I am and what I believe I am called to do. So it is with honor that I ready myself to do so for our party, for our state, and for our people.”

Hart is a mom and a managing partner of consulting firm Hartworks Strategies, specializing in veterans affairs issues. She lives in North Little Rock.

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Gray, who served as state party chair since 2017, announced his resignation last month. He 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.