LITTLE ROCK — Republican Curtis Coleman announced his candidacy for governor Thursday, saying he favored tax cuts and publicly funded vouchers for parents to send students to schools of their choice, including private schools.
Speaking to about 100 supporters at the state Capitol, Coleman also said he wants to decentralize the state’s role in economic development and give that responsibility to cities and counties.
“It’s time to let Arkansas prosper,” Coleman said during his speech. “The simple fact is that Arkansas has every right, every reason and every resource to be one of the most successful states and to be populated by some of the most prosperous people in the nation and like many Arkansans, I’m sick and tired of our state’s political leaders excusing their poor performance on the … hollow pretext that Arkansas is just a poor state.”
The Little Rock resident becomes the second Republican to announce his intention to run for governor in 2014. Former Congressman Asa Hutchinson announced earlier this year that he is a candidate for the state’s highest office.
Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, is term-limited and can’t run for re-election next year. Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel launched his candidacy last fall but dropped out last month after acknowledging he had an extramarital affair with Hot Springs lawyer Andi Davis.
Coleman, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in 2010, said Thursday he supports repealing the state capital gains tax and income tax, as well as cutting business taxes and regulations, which he said inhibit economic growth.
Coleman said he opposes the proposed $1.1 billion Big River Steel Mill project in Mississippi County because the state would have to issue $125 million in general obligation bonds to support the project.
Hutchinson said later Thursday that he supports the project. A spokesman for Halter said he was not available for comment.
Coleman was founder and chief executive officer of Safe Foods Corp. of North Little Rock until he retired in 2009. He currently is chairman of the Institute for Constitutional Policy, a non-profit corporation.