Last year’s First Congressional District Democratic candidate, Chad Causey, is considering another run.
Causey, the former chief of staff to Rep. Marion Berry (D), was defeated last November by Republican Rick Crawford 52% to 43% in a combative and historic race emblematic of last year’s GOP sweep in Arkansas.
"I never thought when I got in the race in early 2010 that it was going to be politically a good year. But I don’t think anybody could have said they knew it was going to turn out the way it did," said Causey.
The Jonesboro attorney tells Talk Business & Politics that he has been asked by supporters to look at a second challenge for the seat, but he doesn’t have a set time frame for making a decision.
"If I have a contribution to make by running a campaign for Congress in 2012 and I can have a positive role for the First District and play a positive role in getting our country back on track, that’s the determination I’m going to make," he said.
2012 OFFERS A DIFFERENT POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
The First Congressional District’s boundaries were redrawn in the legislative session earlier this year as part of the decennial redistricting process. With its population shifts, the district gained all or portions of several southeast Arkansas counties – traditional Democratic strongholds in the Delta.
Those counties are likely to improve a Democrat’s chance against a Republican in the district, but their additions would have only narrowed Crawford’s margin of victory versus Causey in 2010.
Also, President Obama – politically unpopular in Arkansas – will be at the top of the Democratic ticket in 2012. Privately, Democrats acknowledge that Obama’s lack of popularity is a cause of concern, but traditionally Democratic and independent Arkansas voters have split tickets in general elections, voting Republican in Presidential races and for Democrats in other races.
The First District has one of the strongest records of this split-ticket performance. However in 2010, that school of thought was turned on its head. There is much debate as to whether Arkansas is going through a paradigm shift with voter realignment or if it will return to its traditional voting patterns.
Other Democrats mentioned as potential Congressional candidates include State Senator Robert Thompson (D-Paragould), Rep. Clark Hall (D-Marvell), Commissioner of State Lands nominee L.J. Bryant (D), businessman Steve Rockwell, and Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington (D-Jonesboro), who just made headlines with his role in the plea agreement that freed the West Memphis Three.
Causey said he is undeterred by the prospect of possibly losing a second time.
"It’s not about a ‘political career’," Causey explained. "Maybe some would make decisions based on that, but if I feel like it’s the right time to run, and we can run and win, and we feel like we can have a positive impact, that’s why I would do it."
He also senses an anti-incumbent mood among voters who are frustrated with the paralysis of Washington, D.C. politics. He’s not sure if that will lead to a pendelum swing where voters will toss current elected officials out of office or if it will lead to another tidal wave election that changes the political landscape once again.
"I think this election is as equally unpredictable at this point. It could go either way," he said.
Causey declined to criticize any of Crawford’s votes or positions since taking office in January, but he predicts if he were to run again that many of the issues he campaigned on would still resonate with voters in the First.
He cited protecting Medicare and Social Security as "priorities" and he still advocates for a balanced budget, saying it is "imperative" for the security of the nation.
"I think those things are still relevant," Causey said.