Justice Barbara Webb announced Monday that she’s running for chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the third member of the court to seek the top spot next year.
Webb, who was elected to the Supreme Court in 2020, is running in the nonpartisan race to replace Chief Justice Dan Kemp, who is not seeking reelection. Justices Rhonda Wood and Karen Baker are also running.
Webb is a former chief administrative law judge of the Workers Compensation Commission, and has also previously served as a prosecutor and circuit judge.
“With your support, I will continue to be a fair and independent voice that all Arkansans can trust,” Webb said in a statement.
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Webb’s candidacy creates a crowded campaign for chief justice of a court that has been targeted by outside conservative groups in recent years. One of those groups, the Republican State Leadership Committee, bought ads supporting Webb’s court candidacy during the 2020 campaign.
Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders named a former state GOP chairman and federal prosecutor, Cody Hiland, to the seven-member court this month, creating a conservative majority that includes Webb and Wood. Baker won reelection last year, defeating a former Republican lawmaker who touted himself as a constitutional conservative.
Hiland filled the vacancy created by Justice Robin Wynne’s death in June. The seat will be up in next year’s election, and Hiland is barred from running for the seat since he was appointed to it.
Arkansans have never elected a woman as chief justice before. Betty Dickey was appointed chief justice by Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2004.