Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert, best known to readers of this site for erecting an unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument outside the State Capitol, has announced he’ll run for lieutenant governor in 2022.
Both the current governor (Republican Asa Hutchinson) and lieutenant governor (Republican Tim Griffin) will be term-limited out of office, leaving both positions wide open.
If Rapert’s announcement seems… early, well, there’s some strategic value to it. By saying he wants the job now, it could clear the field before other candidates jump into the race. I also saw a rumor online that he had sent an email about his candidacy to his senate colleagues a couple of nights ago — he wouldn’t confirm this to me — so the “secret” may have been on the verge of leaking, anyway.
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.
Two things about that: First, if he loses, he’ll be out of elected office. (Do you need a bigger reason to vote for a Democrat?!)
Second, one of the names that’s floated around as a possible gubernatorial candidate is Sarah Huckabee Sanders… so there could very well be a Sanders-Rapert GOP ticket. (I think I just had an aneurysm.)
Whoever Rapert’s opponents will be, from both parties, they’ll have plenty of ammo to use against him since Rapert has used his position to advance his person brand of Christianity and conservatism at every turn.
In addition to the Ten Commandments monument (and the questions of where he spent all the excess money he raised for it), he’s trashed Muslims for no good reason, called Islam a “cult of death” (not radical Islam, all of Islam), blamed secular humanists for the “dumbing down of America,” compared a journalist to a “terrorist” for quoting him directly, and threatened to shoot a constituent who asked him a question — and none of that even gets into his legislative history.
Then again, all of that insanity may be a selling point to Republicans in the state.
None of this, though, is good news for non-Christians who are hoping for state leaders who will defend their religious freedom with as much passion as they do their own.