LITTLE ROCK (AP) — This is the year for Republicans to prevail in state and local races in Arkansas, former Gov. Mike Huckabee said Sunday during a fundraiser for the state party.

Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008, served as the state's governor from 1996 to 2007. Before speaking at the rally, he told reporters he has never seen such a great time for Republicans in the state, particularly in congressional races.

"Every time I ran, throughout the last 20 years, it was never an advantage to be a Republican," Huckabee said. "You always had to have so much more out there, because the basic ballot test was always going to lean Democrat."

But this year, he says a lot of people are going to vote a straight Republican ticket and that's good news for GOP candidates.

All of the state's constitutional officers are Democrats, as are three of its four congressional representatives and both its U.S. senators. Huckabee said recent polls showing a strong advantage to the generic Republican ballot demonstrate that Arkansas is ready for landmark change, even in down-ballot races.

A poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington released Thursday showed Republican U.S. Rep. John Boozman with a 17-point lead over incumbent U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat. That margin was unchanged from four months earlier. The most recent survey involved telephone interviews with 625 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Two other congressional seats recently vacated by Democrats Reps. Vic Snyder and Marion Berry also appear to be in play in Arkansas.

Democrats are now answering for the passage of what he said were unpopular bills such as the health care overhaul and the bailout of big banks and insurance companies, Huckabee said.

"Almost makes me wish I was running for something this year, instead of all those other years," he said.

Huckabee has continued to deflect questions about whether he'll make a second presidential run in 2012.