Coleman to run for governor in 2014


LITTLE ROCK — Republican businessman Curtis Coleman said Monday he has decided to run for governor in 2014.

Coleman had announced Jan. 2 he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible gubernatorial bid. He said Monday he believes he has much to offer as a candidate for governor.

“I think Arkansas desperately needs a businessman in leadership, someone who understands how to conduct business, but more importantly perhaps a businessman who’s experienced the trials and tribulations of what is clearly over-regulation,” he said. “I think government has its regulatory boot on the throat of a lot of businesses in Arkansas.”

Coleman also said he wants to reform what he called Arkansas’ “business-unfriendly” tax code.

A co-founder and former CEO of Safe Foods Corp. of North Little Rock, Coleman unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010. He also was an adviser to former Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee and was picked by Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin in August 2011 to chair a committee to advise Martin on ways to make his office more efficient.

Coleman said his focus has been on Arkansas.

“I haven’t been a Washington insider, I’m not a professional politician. I’m not even a lawyer,” he said.

The only other announced candidates are Republican Asa Hutchinson, a lawyer, former congressman and member of President George W. Bush’s administration, and Bill Halter, a former lieutenant governor and member of President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Coleman estimated that he will need to raise between $6 million and $10 million to mount a gubernatorial bid.

He said he will make a formal announcement of his candidacy on Feb. 21.