Add one more name to the list of candidates exploring a run for the Fourth District Congressional seat should current-U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, decide to challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., for his senate seat next year.

Republican Beth Anne Rankin said in a telephone call Tuesday (July 9) that she had not formally started the process of exploring a third run for the fourth district seat, but she was open to exploring the possibility should Cotton forgo re-election.

“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.

Rankin said Cotton must first make his decision, something that party insiders say could come within the next month or so.

“I have such a respect for that decision-making process that I know he must be going through at this time.”

Rankin was the Republican nominee for Congress in 2010 against then-U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. She ran again for the seat in 2012, losing to Cotton in the Republican primary.

Asked what could make 2014 different from her previous two campaigns and possibly make running a successful venture, Rankin declined to comment, only to say that it would be “premature to delve into any discussion” of the race at this early stage.

Rankin becomes the third Republican to acknowledge an interest in what could become the most talked about Congressional race in the state if Cotton goes for the Senate. Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs have said they are interested in the race, with Darr recently selling his Northwest Arkansas home and thinking about a move back to the Fourth District, where he attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia as an undergrad.

On the Democratic side, State Rep. Bobby Pierce of Sheridan has told The City Wire that he is in talks with national Democrats about a run.

“We’re exploring it and looking at it, we’re still looking at the polls and numbers. And we’ve got a trip out to Colorado Springs to talk with the national party,” Pierce said on June 15.

To run for the seat, Pierce said he would have to raise at least $1.5 million, though if Cotton were to choose to run for re-election, he said the price tag would be higher and he would have pause about running against the incumbent.

“Well yeah, because you’re running against an incumbent who already (has) $2 million in the bank,” Pierce said.

And raising the funds will be paramount for anyone who chooses to run in the district that spans much of the lower half of Arkansas and up in Madison, Crawford and Sebastian Counties in western Arkansas.

The filing period for the 2014 races is in March, a little over nine months away. And the primary, in May, is now less than a year away, meaning that money could become harder to come by as more candidates announce for more races across the state.

But the one candidate who has yet to announce his intentions is Cotton, who has not given public indications as to what he is planning to do, though many in the party are expecting him to challenge Pryor.

Rep. David Meeks, R-Conway, who is exploring a run for lieutenant governor should Darr choose to not seek re-election, recently said a Cotton run for Senate is expected, adding that “it’s pretty much conventional wisdom out there.”

That remains to be seen. But in the mean time, politicos and political junkies keep waiting and guessing.

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