LITTLE ROCK (AP) — A cable news commentator and gun rights advocate who declared her gun range "Muslim-free" filed paperwork to challenge Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the Republican primary.
Jan Morgan, owner of the Gun Cave Indoor Firing Range in Hot Springs, filed paperwork to make her longshot bid for the governor's office official. Hutchinson, who was first elected in 2014, filed last week. Morgan has accused Hutchinson of not being a true conservative.
"Certainly Republicans wanted a choice, and we're going to give them one," Morgan told reporters after filing. "They're going to get to choose between an establishment progressive, big tax and spend governor or a constitutional conservative, two very different types of leaders."
Morgan trails Hutchinson in fundraising, with the incumbent governor reporting this month he has more than $2.2 million in the bank for his re-election bid. Morgan reported having more than $22,000.
"We welcome Jan Morgan to the race and we'll see if anyone else joins during the filing period," Jamie Barker, a spokesman for Hutchinson's campaign, said in a statement. "The Governor's conservative record is evident by the fact that he has cut taxes by $150 million per year; curbed the growth of state government and over 60,000 new jobs have been created."
Morgan defended her decision in 2014 to declare her range a "Muslim-free zone" because of safety concerns. At the time, she said she viewed Islam as a "theocracy/terrorist organization, not a religion."
"Running a facility, a private club, where people are handling lethal weapons within a couple feet of each other requires a higher level of discernment than running your average coffee doughnut shop," she said. "Running a state government, a totally different ballgame. I will be governor of all of the people in this state."
Mark West, the Libertarian nominee for governor, also filed paperwork to run Monday. The Libertarian Party selected its nominees at a convention on Saturday.
Jared Henderson, the former executive director of the Arkansas branch of Teach for America, is the only Democrat who has announced a bid to unseat Hutchinson. He plans to file paperwork on Tuesday. The one week filing period for state and federal office in Arkansas ends Thursday.