Michael John Gray, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, announced Monday that he is resigning his post effective Sept. 1 to take “a new professional opportunity.”
Gray told DPA executive committee members at a meeting Monday night of his intention to step down, according to a press release. He has served as party chair since 2017. Nicole Hart, vice chair, will serve as interim chair until an election is set by the party. The next DPA state committee meeting is scheduled for October.
Gray, a former Augusta city councilman, represented District 47 in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2015 to 2019, when he was defeated in the general election by Republican Craig Christiansen.
“Serving as party chairman has been a privilege and at times a heavy burden,” Gray said in a statement. “This era in Arkansas politics for Democrats has often been defined as a battle for survival, to keep the flame burning so that the torch can be passed to our next generation of great leaders. We have faced uphill climbs and have not always achieved the electoral successes we wished for, however we have identified and engaged a new group of leaders as more candidates have stepped up over the last four years than we have seen since the change in term limits.”
The state’s political makeup changed drastically over the last decade with Republicans now in firm control of the state legislature. The GOP holds 27 of 35 state Senate seats and 76 of 100 state House seats as well as all state constitutional offices.
In a statement, State Sen. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) said, “Arkansas Democrats are fighting important battles all over our state, and I am grateful for Michael John’s contribution to our shared mission. He and I came into the legislature together and experienced first-hand the political upheaval in our state. I know that service to Arkansas will always be a part of his life, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him as Democrats continue our collective work for the state that we love.”