The news that Fourth District Cong. Tom Cotton (R) will reveal his future political plans next Tuesday (Aug. 6) – a likely challenge to U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D) – set up a domino effect for several other potential races.
Cotton”s move to not seek re-election sets up a showdown for the Fourth Congressional District as an open seat. Republicans Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, Rep. Bruce Westerman, and Beth Anne Rankin are all weighing the race.
Darr tells our content partner, The City Wire, he”s all but certain to enter.
“I”m pretty sure I do (want to run). Obviously, anything can happen. So I”m keeping that fluid. But I believe that in the next two to three weeks, it”ll be 100%, so I”m pretty sure of what I”m going to be doing. But with all of the people involved, I think it”s best out of respect to other people that I keep that to myself until I”m ready to announce,” Darr said.
State Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs) told his hometown newspaper this week that he”s likely a candidate.
“Recognizing the critical juncture we are at as a country, I am seriously considering stepping up to ensure our conservative voice continues to be heard in Congress should Rep. Cotton decide to run for the U.S. Senate,” Westerman said in a statement. “I have been honored to receive encouragement from Arkansans across the Fourth District, as well as my colleagues in Little Rock, to join the race if it were to open up.”
“I am a lifelong resident of Garland County and my family is here. I have a good job, and I never have had the desire to live or work in Washington, but if my serving in Congress is necessary to ensure my children, and all of our children, have a brighter future and a federal government that treats us fairly, then that is a sacrifice that I would be willing to make.”
A source close to Westerman said he will enter the race once Cotton formally declares his Senate bid.
Two-time GOP candidate Beth Anne Rankin said earlier this month that she”s prepared to make a third run in 2014.
“I love Arkansas Four and because of the amazing experiences I’ve had traveling the district, should that seat come open, I would be open to making another run for Congress,” she said.
Democratic contenders for the Fourth include one for-certain candidate, Janis Percefull, a Hot Springs educator and historian.
Percefull has planned a press conference for next week to announce her bid for the Democratic nomination.
State Sen. Bobby Pierce (D-Sheridan) said at this year”s Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner that he would consider a run if the seat became an open one.
“We’re exploring it and looking at it, we’re still looking at the polls and numbers,” Pierce said at the time.
On Wednesday, Washington, D.C.-based that State Rep. Jeff Wardlaw (D-Warren) remained open to the possibility of a Congressional run.
“I am considering a run but I wouldn’t say that I’m in there yet,” Wardlaw told CQ Roll Call. “I need to sit down with my wife and kids and see if it’s something they want to pursue.”
If Darr enters the Congressional race, it opens the door for a game of musical chairs among state Republicans for Arkansas Lt. Governor.
Democrats now have a solid candidate, Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter, who has already endorsed and received the endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross. Burkhalter and Ross both received boosts this week when their only announced opponents – Democrats Dianne Curry and Bill Halter – backed out of their races, declaring the need for a unified Democratic ticket.
Republicans interested in the Lt. Governor”s post include State Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-East End), who was successful in passing a bill last session to limit abortions beyond 20 weeks.
Reps. Charlie Collins (R-Fayetteville) and Kelly Linck (R-Yellville) have also told supporters they are considering the Lt. Governor”s race.