Wilkins withdraws from county judge’s race

State Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV (D-Pine Bluff), who had previously announced his intention to run for Jefferson County judge, said Friday he will not seek the office.

“After much prayer, encouragement and consideration, and in looking at the ways I might best serve the people of Arkansas, I have decided not to run for County Judge of Jefferson County,” Wilkins said in a press release.

“I am thankful to the many constituents, business, civic and community leaders who have encouraged me to run for County Judge,” Wilkins said. “My political priority has always been, first and foremost, serving the people of Jefferson County and the State of Arkansas. I love this community and have a solid and unwavering commitment. I am humbled by the depth and expansive nature of support I have enjoyed for two decades as a community leader and legislator. I am honored by the kindness of the people of Jefferson County and the State of Arkansas.”

Because of term limits, Wilkins is not eligible for re-election to the state House of Representatives.

According to the release, Wilkins said that during his final term in the Arkansas General Assembly, “he has been influential in many of the things that have been accomplished, working across party lines with Democrats and Republicans.

“In a Republican led General Assembly, Wilkins, a Democrat, serves as Vice-Chair of the Joint Budget and Chair of the strategically important Special Languages Committee,” the release said.

“Serving in a leadership capacity in the Arkansas General Assembly for so many years has allowed me to make a difference for the people of the State of Arkansas,” Wilkins said. “I am the most senior and tenured legislator in the General Assembly. As I look at the future, I want to bring my vast and varied experience to the benefit of our state. I am also thankful for the outpouring of support throughout the years and I will work diligently to deserve the trust of those whom I serve.”

The release also said Wilkins is the only legislator in the history of Arkansas to have served two two-year terms as chairman of both Legislative Audit and the Legislative Council.

“The experience of chairing budget hearings and the opportunity several times of chairing other committees has made me the most experienced legislator in Arkansas,” Wilkins said.

“I am honored to have been given these opportunities to serve our community and the State of Arkansas in the House and Senate,” Wilkins said. “I have decided to continue my public service by means other than a race for County Judge.”

Wilkins’ decision not to enter the race for county judge leaves incumbent Dutch King and Assistant Pine Bluff Chief of Police Ivan Whitfield as the only announced candidates for the position. Both are Democrats.

King defeated Whitfield in the 2012 Democratic primary and then won over Republican Ted Harden of White Hall in the 2012 general election.