Arkansas Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders has announced that Little Rock attorney Kevin Crass will lead her transition team.
The transition team also includes a number of Arkansas political veterans and former staffers who worked with Sanders in the Trump White House.
Crass is a partner at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, and he has represented a number of state constitutional officers, including Sanders’ father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, since 1997, according to his biography.
“Kevin brings important knowledge and connections to this role, and I have complete confidence in his abilities to help me be ready to take on the role of governor on day one and begin to bring our state to the top,” Sanders said in a statement. “Kevin will also be assisted in this important work by several people who were part of our historic victory on election night and who bring their own incredible experiences and expertise. There’s a lot of work to do and little time to do it, but this team will get it done.
Sanders, the former White House press secretary for President Donald Trump, defeated Democrat Chris Jones and Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr.
On Wednesday, she met with time-limited Governor Asa Hutchinson to begin discussing the transition, which will be the first transfer between two Republican governors in Arkansas since Civil War Reconstruction.
Sanders will take office in January.
The Executive Director of the Transition Team, Kevin A. Crass, is a senior partner in the Litigation Practice Group at Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP in Little Rock. He focuses his practice on large and complex commercial litigation before federal and state courts. Kevin has extensive experience handling the defense of national and state class action lawsuits in state and federal courts. Kevin also represents clients before government authorities and advises them on regulatory matters. Kevin has served as a personal advisor to several state constitutional officers. A 1981 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and a 1984 graduate of UA Little Rock Law School, he previously served on the board of directors of the Bar Association of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He also previously served on the Federal Practice Committee of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, after being appointed by the judges of that district. He also currently serves on the UA Little Rock Board of Visitors, Chairman of the War Memorial Stadium Commission and past President of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Special Counsel Chris Caldwell served as campaign manager for Sanders’ gubernatorial campaign. He is the former federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority. A Bryant native and graduate of the University of Arkansas, he worked for U.S. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas from 2010 to 2018 and led his re-election campaign in 2016. Caldwell was also involved in the presidential bid for 2008 of former Governor Mike Huckabee and in the 2002 campaign of United States Senator Tim Hutchinson.
Deputy Director Gretchen Conger joined Sanders’ campaign as a senior adviser after serving as deputy chief of staff to Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, where she was responsible for budget, policy and legislative affairs. Prior to his 7-year tenure at Ducey, Conger worked on several issue and candidate-based campaigns in Arizona.
Deputy Director Andrew “Vu” Ritchie, who most recently served as general counsel for the Sanders campaign, brings years of legal, legislative and political experience at the national and state levels. Ritchie is a Little Rock native and graduated from the University of Arkansas Walton School of Business and earned his Juris Doctorate from the William H. Bowen School of Law. Prior to joining the campaign, he worked for U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas as a senior domestic policy adviser. While in Washington, DC, Ritchie also served in the Trump administration at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid as a senior adviser in the office of Administrator Seema Verma. Prior to moving to Washington, Ritchie served as legal counsel and senior adviser to Governor Asa Hutchinson.
Communications director Judd P. Deere held the same position in the Sanders campaign. He is a former Deputy White House Press Secretary for President Donald J. Trump and brings more than a decade of political communications experience at the national and state levels. Before returning to Arkansas this summer, Deere served as deputy chief of staff to Republican U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee. He has also worked for Boozman and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho, as well as Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Deere hails from Benton and graduated from Lyon College.
External Affairs Director Jordan Powell, who served as deputy campaign manager for the Sanders campaign, is a campaign strategist who has served as a consultant, communications adviser, ad creator and digital expert for the campaigns of the Governor, Congress, of the state house and problems across the country. . He also served as press secretary on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. In 2016, Powell served as deputy campaign manager for former Governor Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.
Legislative Director Jamie Barker joins the transition team after serving as political director for Sanders’ campaign. He was born and raised in Smackover and worked on campaigns for Cotton, Hutchinson and Huckabee’s 2016 presidential campaign. Barker also served as political director for the Arkansas Republican Party. He is a former president of the Arkansas Federation of Young Republicans and a former member of the state party’s executive committee. He is a political consultant with the Arkansas-based firm, JCD Consulting.
Policy Director Jack Sisson, who served as a political adviser to the Sanders campaign, is a public affairs professional and consultant with more than 15 years of experience at the state and federal levels. In Washington, DC, he served as a health policy advisor to Boozman and aide to then-US Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. Sisson also worked as an adviser to Huckabee when he was governor and as a campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Arkansas French Hill.
Director of Boards and Commissions Alex Flemister joins the transition after serving as director of operations on the Sanders campaign. He has spent his career in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining the campaign, Flemister served as Associate Director of the White House Public Liaison Office under Trump, where he was the liaison for the business, veterans and AAPI communities. He is originally from Little Rock and graduated from the University of Arkansas.
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