Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as a White House press secretary under former President Donald J. Trump, announced her candidacy for governor of Arkansas on Monday, running for a seat her father, Mike Huckabee, once held.
Ms. Sanders is seen as the preferred candidate of Mr. Trump for the election in 2022, and her candidacy will serve, to some extent, as a test of Mr. Trump’s remaining strength in the Republican Party. The party has found itself divided after the tumultuous final weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency, his false claims of widespread voter fraud and his role in igniting a riot by his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
She announced her run in a video posted on her website Monday morning.
When Ms. Sanders resigned as press secretary, in June 2019, Mr. Trump suggested that she run for governor in Arkansas. She is expected to face a primary, but her name recognition is expected to give her a boost at the outset.
Ms. Sanders already has a fund-raising team in place, a person briefed on her plans said. The current governor, Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, cannot run again because of term limits.
As press secretary, Ms. Sanders was one of Mr. Trump’s favorite advisers. But she also was a lightning rod for criticism, particularly for her frequent sparring with reporters from the White House briefing room.
Reporters often called out Ms. Sanders for telling falsehoods from the podium; in the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, she acknowledged that a claim she made about knowing F.B.I. agents were pleased by the firing of James B. Comey was not based in fact.
Yet the qualities that could harm her in a battleground state in a general election — her ties to Mr. Trump, and her loyalty to him — are assets in Arkansas, where the president remains popular. In the video announcing her candidacy just after 7 a.m., Ms. Sanders spent more time talking about Mr. Trump than she did about her father.
She made clear her campaign would use the touchstones of Republican arguments in recent months, saying that she “took on the media, the radical left and their cancel culture,” and that while she had been targeted by media outlets, she would “never let them silence you.”
The video opened with footage of Ms. Sanders traveling with Mr. Trump to Iraq, and meeting a soldier there who she said praised her for how she handled herself on the job.
Ms. Sanders, who in a recent autobiography described the difficulty of raising children while doing her job, said she was the “third woman and first mom to serve as White House press secretary.”
Private polling shows Ms. Sanders as the prohibitive favorite in the primary, which currently includes Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and the state’s attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, according to a person who has seen the data.