Apr 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders jumps on Bud Light backlash bandwagon

A photo of Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a white dress on a blue field giving her acceptance speech after winning the election, standing at a podium.

Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

An ad tweeted by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week is designed to drive contributions to her re-election campaign by selling koozies emblazoned with her face and the words "real woman."

Why it matters: The ad makes light of the very real challenges facing transgender and nonbinary Americans grappling with the intense political attack the community faces.

  • It also highlights how anti-trans laws are a legislative priority and fundraising lever for Republicans.

Reality check: The LGBTQ+ community is already at higher risk for disorders like anxiety and depression, and this is especially true for LGBTQ+ youth, who consistently report higher rates of depression and suicidal ideation than their straight and cisgender peers, Axios' Arika Herron writes.

State of play: Sanders' campaign is hardly the first or only effort to opine on Bud Light's marketing controversy. The Blaze, The Daily Wire and musician Kid Rock have called for boycotts of the beer.

What they're saying: Sanders' campaign manager, Chris Caldwell, ignored most of Axios' questions about the video ad. He responded to a question about why the voiceover was disparaging toward transgender women, saying:

  • "Like most Americans, Gov. Sanders finds it absurd that Democrats and woke corporations believe all a man needs to do to be a woman is put on a dress and makeup."

Yes, but: Americans have more nuanced and complex views of gender identity and transgender issues, according to a 2022 Pew Research Center survey.

Of note: Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch and its employees were among the biggest donors to the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2022.

  • The company "never intended to be part of a discussion that divides people," CEO Brendan Whitworth said in a statement.

Between the lines: Republican Govs. Kay Ivey (Alabama), Kristi Noem (South Dakota) and Kim Reynolds (Iowa) are other featured faces on the koozies that go for $15 per two-pack; but the products are currently only available via Sanders' campaign site.

By the numbers: The ad comes about three weeks after Mulvaney's post and seeks to generate revenue for Sanders' campaign. The koozies are the only swag available for purchase on the site.

  • The governor raised about $50,000 in campaign contributions during the first quarter of the year, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
  • The largest contributions of $2,900 each came from the PAC of gunmaker Sig Sauer of Newington, New Hampshire; John Peck Jr. of Dallas; and Charles Tankersley of North Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • Her campaign spent about $230,000 during the first quarter.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say Kristi Noem is the governor of South Dakota, not North Dakota.

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