An Arkansas woman who once declared her gun range “Muslim-free” is running for governor.
Jan Morgan, 54, officially entered the race on New Year’s Eve, challenging the state’s incumbent Republican governor, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, whom she has criticized as a campaigning “like a conservative Republican but [governing] like a liberal Democrat.” Morgan jumped into the race by touting her Tea Party credentials with a campaign focused on unbridled second amendment rights, cutting taxes, shrinking government, and “opposing” Sharia Law.
“I’m Jan Morgan, a born-again Christian, a genetically conservative wife, mother, small-business owner [and] certified firearms instructor,” Morgan said in a video announcing her candidacy. “[A]nd yes, like our vice president of the United States, I ride a Harley!”
Morgan has made her name as a Fox News personality, and she garnered some publicity in 2014 when she announced she would not allow Muslims at her gun range, a Hot Springs establishment called The Gun Cave.
“Agents with the Counter-Terrorism unit of the FBI met with me last year to alert me that ISIS is in Arkansas… The agency feared I was going to be a target of opportunity, and I was directed to take EVERY SECURITY PRE-CAUTION necessary to protect my life and the lives of all people in my presence at all times,” Morgan wrote on her website at the time. “Why would I want to rent or sell a gun and hand ammunition to someone who aligns himself with a religion that commands him to kill me or other innocent people simply because we refuse to submit to Islamic authority.”
In January 2015, two Hindu men said Morgan denied them service, telling local media at the time, “I’m not Muslim, I’m just brown.”
Morgan is now looking to bring her anti-Islam crusade to the public sector. On her campaign website, Morgan criticizes Hutchinson for not signing a meaningless anti-Sharia Law bill floated earlier this year that would have “outlawed” Sharia Law in Arkansas courts.
“I’m searching for a reason for that legislation,” Hutchinson said of the bill in February of last year. “I’ve been in courts, I’ve litigated all over the country and here in Arkansas, and I just have not identified that as a problem.”
Morgan’s extremist campaign is the latest in a line of firebrand Republicans taking aim at more traditional conservatives. Most recently, in Alabama, Judge Roy Moore, backed by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in a primary election, only to lose to Democratic candidate Doug Jones in December’s general election.
Morgan has a tendency to sound like President Trump himself. In several of her early campaign materials, she mentions the “large crowds” she has spoken to “at elegant Reagan Day Dinners,” and touts when she has gone “viral.”
On Monday, she shared a meme on her Facebook and Twitter pages of a small dog running behind a rino with the caption, “Jan Morgan ‘Conservative Underdog’ Nippin’ at the heels of Asa Hutchinson the super sized RINO.” Morgan added, “This is the most circulated photo on the internet today that captures the Republican primary race… A good laugh to start the campaign for governor.”
She also recently shared a picture with former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, who is reportedly a sworn member of a Nazi-allied group in Hungary. (Gorka denies being a sworn member of the group, saying he wears the group’s memorabilia to honor his father.)
“Would walk a mile barefoot on a road paved with broken glass to meet my hero,” she tweeted.
Morgan doesn’t have the same kind of statewide name recognition Moore had in Alabama, and she doesn’t have Bannon’s backing (at least not yet—Bannon didn’t respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment on whether he has considered supporting Morgan), but the success—or failure—of Bannonite and mini Trump candidates like Morgan is already shaping up to be one of the defining storylines of the 2018 midterms.
If Morgan were to win her gubernatorial race, she would also be the first woman governor in Arkansas’s history, and she joins nearly 80 other women aiming to take the reins at statehouses across the country this year. According to the Center for American Woman in Politics at Rutgers University, at least 79 women, 49 Democrats and 30 Republicans, are running for governor or seriously considering it. That’s more than twice as many women than ran for governor in 2012, and will likely surpass the record 34 who ran in 1994.