Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller has a blood disorder and is ending his race for governor.
The 56-year-old Rockefeller says he was diagnosed in April and that the blood condition, called Myeloproliferative Disorder, could develop into leukemia.
In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, he said he is immediately leaving the race for governor, saying “effective immediately, I am retiring from this campaign."
Governor Mike Huckabee, who has worked with Rockefeller since 1996, called Rockefeller "a great friend and an excellent teammate."
Governor Mike Huckabee’s Full Statement
"I’m deeply saddened by this news from Lt. Gov. Rockefeller. My concern has nothing to do with the political aspects. Instead, the prayers of Arkansans are focused on his treatment and healing. We pray that the lieutenant governor moves toward a complete restoration of his health and that future opportunities await him. He has been a great friend and an excellent teammate during the past nine years. We’ll continue to be teammates as we finish our terms together."
Rockefeller has been campaigning and raising money in the hope of following in his father's footsteps as governor of Arkansas. But his illness will derail that plan.
Rockefeller made his gubernatorial ambitions known in February. He is closing out a second four-year term as lieutenant governor, an office he won in 1996 in a special election after Mike Huckabee ascended to the governorship.
Rockefeller, a billionaire, has emphasized economic development in his time in office and has traveled to foreign countries in efforts to rally business to Arkansas. He has also put a premium on literacy and education, saying young people are a resource Arkansas has to develop.
Rockefeller was to have faced former Arkansas congressman Asa Hutchinson in the Republican primary, setting up an expensive battle between two high-profile candidates. Attorney General Mike Beebe remains alone on the Democratic ballot.
Rockefeller has staked out a position in the political center. He's a life member of the National Rifle Association and has also been a board member of The Nature Conservancy.
Rockefeller is the grandson of former Standard Oil chief John D. Rockefeller Junior. The lieutenant governor's father, Winthrop Rockefeller, served as Arkansas governor from 1967 to 1971. The elder Rockefeller's time in office is regarded as a watershed for the state, bringing modern government and civil rights.
Hutchinson "Saddened" By Rockefeller Illness
Former congressman and Homeland Security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson says he is saddened by news of Lt. Governor Win Rockefeller's illness. Hutchinson and Rockefeller were to face off in the 2006 Republican primary for governor.
Hutchinson said after Rockefeller's announcement that he was "totally shocked and surprised" when Rockefeller called him shortly before this afternoon's announcement.
Hutchinson says he and his wife Susan will keep Rockefeller and his family in their prayers. Attorney General Mike Beebe, a Democrat running for governor, also sent his prayers to Rockefeller and his family.
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