Term-limited State Sen. Gene Jeffress (D-Louann) has been saying publicly he would jump in the Fourth District Congressional race, which is now an open seat thanks to retiring Rep. Mike Ross (D). Jeffress has yet to put a visible campaign structure together or reach out to the media in a formal fashion, but his brother, State Sen. Jimmy Jeffress (D-Crossett), issued this statement on his Facebook page today.
My brother, Senator Gene Jeffress, made an official announcement this morning of his candidacy for U. S. Congress in Arkansas’ 4th District. He is seeking the post being vacated by Rep. Mike Ross. The 4th District encompasses almost half of the geography of the state of Arkansas. Go, Gene! We are all behind you!!!!
We’ve made contact to both Jeffress brothers seeking something more formal, but in this day and age, this may be as formal as it gets.
Jeffress is a retired school teacher and has served in the state legislature for more than a decade. He served two terms in the Arkansas House from 1999-2003 and has served in the Arkansas Senate since 2003. Jeffress currently sits on the Joint Budget Committee and is Senate Chairman of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development committee.
There are 3 announced GOP candidates in the race, including Tom Cotton, Beth Anne Rankin and Marcus Richmond.
UPDATE: Here is the formal announcement from Jeffress announcing his candidacy.
State Senator Gene Jeffress of Louann announced Tuesday (Oct. 11) that he would seek election to the United States Congress from the Fourth District of Arkansas.
Jeffress, a Democrat, has served in the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Arkansas Senate since 1999, representing the districts in south central Arkansas generally composed of Union, Ouachita, Calhoun, and Columbia Counties.
He and his wife, Cynthia, have been married for 43 years and have a daughter and two sons, with five grandchildren. They all live in Ouachita County.
"I know what it means to raise a family in today’s world, and the lessons I learned from my family will guide every decision I make as the Congressman from Arkansas’ 4th District," Jeffress said.
Jeffress graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he received a BME degree in music education. He taught choral music in the Camden Fairview Public Schools for 28 years before retiring in 1999. He was the Minister of Music at the Cullendale Baptist Church in Camden for 18 years, where he also serves as a deacon. He is working in the music ministry at the Fairview United Methodist Church in Camden. Jeffress is a former member of the Camden Lion’s Club and serves on the Eliott Rural Fire Department.
In the Arkansas General Assembly Jeffress chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development and is a member of the Senate Education Committee. He also is on the Joint Committee on Public Retirement and Social Security Systems, a committee he formerly chaired. Also, he is vice-chair of the Claims Review Subcommittee and the Game and Fish/State Police Subcommittees of the Legislative Council.
"For about the past six weeks, as I pondered my decision to run for Congress, I visited 29 of the 33 counties within the newly drawn Fourth District," Jeffress said. "I’ve learned that people all over the district want the same thing out of their government officials… integrity, openness and accountability."
"I will not forget those virtues if I am elected as the next U.S. Congressman from the Fourth District. I’ve represented my constituents in South Arkansas with dignity and honor for the past 13 years and I pledge to carry that commitment through into Congress as well," Jeffress said. "My record in the state Legislature is open for all to see."
"That means I will tell people the unvarnished truth instead of always telling them what they want to hear. It means I will be honest about my position on issues and I won’t try to obscure my actual record with cleverly worded statements and procedural tricks," Jeffress said.
"I look forward to meeting as many of you as I possibly can in the next few months and to personally ask you for your vote and support," Jeffress said. "With your help and with the divine intercession of the Creator of the Universe, we can make Arkansas a better place in which to live, work, play and raise our families."
"Everyone who knows me and my work in the state Legislature can vouch for the fact that I am a person of conservative values, and a person whose word has always been his bond. That will not change if I am elected," Jeffress said.
Jeffress said he would present policy statements on a regular basis to outline his stand on issues affecting American society and government. He is putting together his campaign organization and plans to have it in place by early 2012.