Who is running for lieutenant governor in Arkansas? Meet the candidates

From Staff Reports

Four Republicans have announced bids to seek the nomination for Arkansas lieutenant governor.

The general election is set for Nov. 8, 2022. As of Feb. 10, 2021, no Democrats have announced a bid for lieutenant governor.

Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election in 2022, has announced he will run for attorney general.

The candidates:

Dr. Greg Bledsoe

Arkansas Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe is seen at a 2015 meeting in the Arkansas state Capitol. Bledsoe announced Feb. 4, 2021, he is seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2022. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston File)

Bledsoe, 47, was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson as the state's surgeon general in 2015. He is a board-certified emergency medicine physician and has been an instructor and medical consultant for the United States Secret Service.

After completing medical school and residency at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Bledsoe spent five years on faculty in the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine completing a two-year fellowship in International Emergency Medicine and a Masters in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2005, he received the “Teacher of the Year” award from the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine.

Bledsoe's international medical experience includes serving as a field physician in Honduras, teaching disaster preparedness in Tanzania, leading a nutritional survey among the Beja tribe in northeast Sudan, working as a medical consultant in Beijing, and acting as the medical officer for ships in both Antarctica and the Arctic. He is the chief editor of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine, a 700-page medical text published by Cambridge University Press in the spring of 2008.

In addition to his clinical duties, Bledsoe was the personal physician to former President Bill Clinton during Clinton’s tour of Africa in September 2002 and served in Uganda and Senegal on the advance team of President George W. Bush when the President visited the African continent in July of 2003.

According to his LinkedIn page, Bledsoe’s research has been published in many prestigious medical journals. He is a frequent public speaker regarding health issues, and also is a private pilot, a scuba diver, an Eagle Scout, a student in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and a member of The Explorers Club.

Attorney general race:  Meet the candidates running to replace Leslie Rutledge

State Sen. Jason Rapert

Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway announced in 2019 he was running for lieutenant governor of Arkansas in 2022.

Rapert announced his intentions to run for lieutenant governor in 2019. He represents Senate District 35 serving the City of Conway and portions of Faulkner County and Perry County.

Following Bledsoe's announcement, Rapert said he welcomed the opportunity to differentiate his conservative record and specified he is for "protecting Arkansas consumers, promoting our state's energy resources, cutting taxes to help Arkansas families, fighting for our religious freedom, and protecting the unborn."

Rapert was first elected to the Arkansas Senate in 2010 and has become one of the most outspoken opponents of abortion. He is currently chairman of the Arkansas Senate State Agencies Committee, member of Joint Budget and Revenue & Tax Committees, past chair of Insurance & Commerce Committee, and past president of the bipartisan National Council of Insurance Legislators.

Rapert and his wife Laurie attended the University of Central Arkansas at Conway. While at UCA, he served on the Student Judicial Board and as a congressional intern in the office of former 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Ray Thornton.

After 20 years in the insurance and financial services industry, he now owns Rapert Financial and Associates. He consults in the financial services industry on an as-needed basis.

In the 2013 legislative session, Rapert joined the Senate leadership and was the lead sponsor of Act 301, the Human Heartbeat Protection Act. It prohibits abortions when the physician can detect a heartbeat using ultrasound at 12 weeks unless exceptions are met. It is one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States, according to Rapert's biography at the Arkansas Legislature website. In 2019 he co-sponsored Act 180, the Human Life Protection Act to prohibit abortion in Arkansas, and Act 493, the Cherish Act to prohibit abortions after 18 weeks of gestation.

Rapert sponsored Act 1088 to set higher standards of accountability and transparency for financial transactions made by the state Treasurer’s Office. This reform legislation enhanced the oversight of the State Board of Finance and increased checks and balances related to the Treasurer's Office. He was the lead Senate sponsor of Act 1450, Gov. Mike Beebe’s bill to repeal the state sales tax on groceries as soon as certain state financial obligations are met. He also sponsored Act 1213 to place a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state Capitol.

As chairman of Insurance and Commerce, during regular sessions he sponsors legislation to update laws regulating the insurance industry and to modernize policies at the state Insurance Department. Rapert is a member of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) and was elected by his peers as treasurer of the NCOIL for 2014 and president in 2017-2018. He is the founder and former president of Holy Ghost Ministries, Inc. (HGM), a faith-based humanitarian missions organization providing clean water and assistance to the poor and orphans in Ghana West Africa, Uganda and the Philippines.

Doyle Webb

Doyle Webb, a former state senator and  chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas, announced his bid for Arkansas lieutenant goverrnor in May.

Doyle Webb announced his run for Arkansas lieutenant governor in early May.

The Saline County native was formally the chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas and general counsel to the Republican National Committee. He holds the record as the longest-serving Republican state party chairman in Arkansas and in the country, according to the Arkansas Attorney General's office. Webb joined Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s senior staff as the Redistricting Director in January 2021 and resigned from the post in April to run for lieutenant governor.

Throughout his career, Webb served as a Saline County Justice of the Peace and as state senator for District 14, where he served from 1995-2002. During his legislative service, Webb served as vice chairman of State Agencies, chairman of the Joint Entergy Committee, was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a member of the Legislative Council, Joint Budget and Joint Audit.

Webb was chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller, County Chairman of the Saline County Committee, 2nd District Chairman and General Counsel to the Republican Party of Arkansas. Webb obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law in 1981 and practiced law in Saline County for 25 years.

Webb is married to state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Webb, who won her seat on the state's highest court last year.

Joseph Wood

Joseph Wood, county judge for Washington County, is a Republican candidate for Arkansas lieutenant governor.

Washington County Judge Joseph Wood announced May 17 his candidacy to become the next lieutenant governor.

“I’m running for lieutenant governor because there are big issues facing our state and my record of cutting government waste, recruiting new businesses, and standing for conservative values are needed for a better Arkansas,” Wood said in a news release. “I will bring to the office real-world experience from working with major corporations in the private sector to being a small business owner and fighting for our shared pursuit of life and liberty in the state.”

Wood is currently serving his second term as county judge, a position that is administrative. He has overseen a county that has grown by fifteen families every day, he noted in the release. He and his family moved to Arkansas in 1997.

Wood serves as chair of the National Association of Counties’ Community, Economic & Workforce Development Steering Committee, Veterans & Military Services Committee, and the Broadband Taskforce & Advisory Council.

“My role has been to improve infrastructure, educate, and empower employees and ensure public safety and security through budget reductions, driving efficiencies, and a focus on building our future,” Wood explained.

Prior to becoming county judge, Wood served Arkansas as the Deputy Secretary of State, responsible for the Business Commercial Services and Education Divisions, and he worked with the Elections Division. He noted the results included making Arkansas more business-friendly by removing government barriers and red tape so Arkansans could turn an idea into a business, expanded education opportunities and civic engagement programs, and improved election security and reporting processes.

Wood has also worked as the head of International Recruiting for Walmart and as District Human Resources director for Home Depot. 

In his March 12 YouTube video announcing his candidacy, Wood noted he is a "foundling, abandoned at birth in the streets of Chicago and placed in an orphanage. He went on to find his forever family when he was adopted at 10 years old. He grew up with two brothers and a sister. Married for 29 years, Joseph and his wife, June, have three daughters: Paris, Loren J’la (Jalen), and Candace (Marvin), and find joy spending time with their three grandchildren Brian, Joseph, and Anna. The candidate wrote the foreword to America’s 20/20 Vision: The Plan and authored two children’s books, "Saving Joey" and "Adopting Joey," based on his true-life story.