LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The stage for an October debate between candidates vying for the Arkansas governor’s chair just got a bit more crowded.

Republic candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced via social media Friday morning that she would be participating in the debate on Oct. 21. The debate is being hosted by Arkansas PBS.

“I look forward to speaking with Arkansans in every corner of the state by participating in Arkansas’ only statewide debate hosted by @ArkansasPBS on Friday, Oct. 21 and sharing my message of freedom and opportunity for all,” she tweeted.

Huckabee Sanders announced her candidacy for governor in January of 2021 and rolled on to a decisive victory in the 2022 Republican primary.

Along the way, the Huckabee Sanders campaign broke numerous campaign fundraising records. She also sent two other Republican competitors to other races, with current Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin instead running for attorney general and current AG Leslie Rutledge jumping into the lieutenant governor race.

Seven are running for governor in Arkansas, including Democrat primary winner Chris Jones and Libertarian candidate Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. Additional independent write-in candidates include Dan Nelson, Elvis Presley, Jason Tate and Michael Woodward.

Jones has been open about his platforms, aligning with state Democrat policy supporting teacher pay. He has also come out in support of the loosening of marijuana restrictions.

Huckabee Sanders has been quieter about policy positions since her primary win, although she has tweeted in support of the Dodd v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, and her opposition to the recently executed search at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort home.

The Arkansas governor’s race is wide-open with current Gov. Asa Hutchinson being term limited out of office after his 2022 term.

Arkansas presumably favors Republican candidates, voting 62.4% for then-President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Sanders had been Trump’s press secretary through 2019.

The Jones campaign responded to Huckabee Sanders’ announcement that afternoon:

“First things first,” Jones’ response stated, “I have this grassroots movement to thank for the fact she’s [Huckabee Sanders] finally made the decision to engage with us on the issues. Her silence to this point has been strategic, and it’s obvious she’d gladly continue avoiding these types of interactions if she could win the election regardless. This coalition pressured her into some kind of action, and she’s clearly feeling the heat.”

Jones’ statement continued: “Unlike their team, we’ve been taking this race seriously since the very beginning — and we’re prepared to show the state just how ready we are to lead Arkansas into its future. I know I’m personally excited for this opportunity, and now we’ve got to build our momentum so that we’re at our best come the day of the debate.”