story by Michael Tilley
Through his spokeswoman, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, denied any interest in entering the 2014 race for the Arkansas Governor’s office. However, his interest in the 2014 U.S. Senate race remains open.
Womack’s possible interest in the Governor’s race was fueled by his comments during a Tuesday (Mar. 12) interview with a Little Rock talk radio station.
“Two very important races will come up for Republicans and that is the governor’s mansion and the Senate race,” Womack responded when asked about his political future. “Those are going to be two high profile races. I have not ruled anything out but I am concentrating on my duties as a member of the Appropriations Committee – the Defense Subcommittee particularly – as we continue to do out work. There is plenty of time to make those decisions and I would say that sometime this summer, we’ll have clarity as to who the nominees are going to be for each of those critical offices to face voters in Arkansas.”
In noting that he had “not ruled anything out,” most Arkansas political junkies assumed Womack was contemplating entering either race.
But when asked about the radio interview, Womack’s office said the Governor’s race is not under consideration.
“He’s not going to be running for governor,” Claire Burghoff, spokeswoman for Womack, told The City Wire on Tuesday. “He’s not seeking the Governor’s mansion, and as far as anything else, he’s focused on the Third District.”
When the transcript of Womack’s comments were sent to Burghoff asking for confirmation that Womack was not interested in the Governor’s race, The City Wire received this short response: “He is not running for governor.”
The announced gubernatorial candidates are Republicans Curtis Coleman and Asa Hutchinson, and Democrat Bill Halter.
The 2014 race for governor has already proven tumultuous. The two leading candidates on the Democratic side have already dropped.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told supporters on Jan. 25 that he was out of the race. Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, announced in 2012 he would take a private sector job instead of succeed popular Gov. Mike Beebe, who is term limited. However, it is rumored that Ross is being heavily lobbied to run for the office now that McDaniel dropped out.
As to the U.S. Senate race, incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., has said he will seek re-election.
Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, a Republican from Springdale, has said he is considering the Senate race. Darr announced Feb. 12 that he would not be a candidate for governor in 2014, and plans to support Hutchinson for the office.
If Womack enters the Senate race, geography may prove his biggest handicap. He shares a Rogers zip code with Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman. Some political watchers have said Arkansans may not be comfortable having two U.S. Senators from the same city.