Democrats in the First Congressional District now have a choice to make on who they’d like to challenge Congressman Rick Crawford in 2012.

Gary Latanich, an Arkansas State University economics professor, yesterday announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for the 1st Congressional District.  Latanich will face State Representative Clark Hall (D-Marvell) who announced his candidacy last month.

In his announcement press release, apparently only sent to the Jonesboro Sun, Latanich struck a populist economic tone:

“We’re being told by some that even though we are the richest nation on the planet, we can’t afford to help those without health-care insurance; that our government is almost bankrupt, even though as a sovereign nation we control the amount of money created; that government spending is out of control, when in fact government spending as a percent of GDP is at its lowest levels in decades; that we’re overtaxed when in fact we have one of the lowest tax burdens in the industrialized world; that we need to deregulate our economy further, when in fact our latest crisis was created by a foolish deregulation of the banking sector,” he said.

Both Latanich and Hall are largely unknown in the 1st Congressional District and at this time the Democratic nomination is wide-open.  However, Hall has locked down some Democratic establishment support for his candidacy both locally and in D.C.  For example, Congressman Mike Ross recently announced he would appear as a special guest at a fundraiser for Hall in Little Rock on November 10 at an event hosted by fellow State Legislators.  Ross also pledged to contribute $7,000 to Hall’s campaign at last weekend’s Democratic Party of Arkansas State Committee meeting.

With Rick Crawford’s anemic poll numbers, and with redistricting making the First Congressional District more Democratic, Arkansas Democrats have a great opportunity to make Crawford a one-term Congressman.

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