Two Democrats announce plans to run for lieutenant governor

LITTLE ROCK — A member of the powerful state Highway Commission and the president of the Little Rock School Board announced intentions Tuesday to seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2014.

Little Rock businessman John Burkhalter, appointed to the commission in 2011 after previously serving on the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, announced his candidacy in a conference call with reporters. Dianne Curry, a Malvern native who was first elected to the Little Rock School Board in 2006, announced her plans in a news release.

Burkhalter, who had been mentioned for months as a possible Democratic candidate for governor, said Tuesday that lieutenant governor would be the best fit for him.

“My wife and I, through a lot of prayer and discussion and debate, finally decided that this was the best place for me to serve my state at this time,” he said.

His choice leaves former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and former Congressman Mike Ross as the only Democratic candidates for governor.

Curry said she has been in conversations with people across Arkansas for months, “and not just wealthy political donors, but everyday, hardworking Arkansans.”

“I told them I am looking at opportunities like U.S. Congress or state auditor, but the office that seems to make the most sense, that fits my experience and my abilities, is lieutenant governor.”

She said she will embark on a listening tour beginning Saturday.

The lieutenant governor serves as acting governor when the governor is out of state and as president of the state Senate during legislative sessions, with the ability to cast tie-breaking votes in that body. The job has no other official duties.

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, a Republican, has said he has not decided if he will seek re-election to a second term next year.***

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***This article has been updated from its original version because of a correction. Click here to view the correction notice.