First District Democrat eyeing challenge to Rep. Crawford

by Roby Brock (roby@talkbusiness.net) 1,449 views 

With Democrats declaring or considering runs in the Second and Third Congressional districts in Arkansas, a serious First District Democratic candidate has emerged.

Jim Huff, grandson of former State Rep. and Speaker of the House Jim Shaver, says he’s contemplating a challenge to U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro.

“It’s my current assessment that Representative Rick Crawford has lost his objectivity in deciding between what is right for the First Congressional District or his political party which casts doubt on his ability to lead with clarity,” Huff said in a statement provided to Talk Business & Politics. In a follow-up conversation, Huff said he’s exploring a run.

Huff is married with three sons and has local government experience. He’s been on the Wynne City Council since 2011. He’s worked in banking and healthcare and now works for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

His grandfather, Rep. Jim Shaver, served in the Arkansas legislature for four decades and was Speaker of the House in 1977. Huff’s grandfather, Bex Shaver, is a former Arkansas State Senator and Lt. Governor.

Huff outlined several concerns he has about Crawford’s leadership in his statement.

“First, Rep. Crawford voted for a highly unpopular healthcare replacement bill without knowing the ramifications beforehand. His party needed his vote but his constituents needed access to insurance more. Unfortunately, he chose to side with his party. The CBO-scored bill Rep. Crawford voted for found that 23 million Americans will lose coverage by 2026 and end Medicaid Expansion, a program that has insured hundreds of thousand of Arkansans.

Jim Huff and family from 2012 campaign literature.

“Secondly, Rep. Crawford and President Trump have not provided sufficient leadership. The President ran a campaign to give voice to forgotten rural Americans but his budget either slashes or eliminates several programs that these individuals rely on every day. Among the most deeply affected by these cuts will be our hardworking farmers. Recent declines in market prices and increases in input prices squeeze farmers more and more every year. Additional cuts like a 21% cut to the USDA and 36% cut to crop insurance is not in the best interest of our farmers in Arkansas or across the Nation.

“Additionally, the President’s budget eliminates the Delta Regional Authority which is a program that has provided economic development opportunities to dozens of counties in the Delta and other states. Cuts to farmers safety nets and eliminating economic development opportunities is not a winning recipe for rural Arkansas.

“I have heard very little in the way of leadership from Rep. Crawford on how this budget or healthcare plan serves to make our state stronger or healthier. Nor have I heard any plans from Rep. Crawford on how to provide stability in our government in these uncertain times. The voters of the First Congressional district sent him to Washington to help get our country back on track. Since he’s been there, things have only gotten worse. Our district deserves a leader who will fight to protect us from bad policies despite political ramifications. It’s time to elect a more determined leader who will stand up for all of the people who live here.”

Rep. Crawford was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and is the first Republican to hold the district’s seat since Reconstruction. His campaign declined to offer comment on Huff’s potential candidacy.

Democrat Joshua Mahony said he intends to run on the ticket in the Third District against incumbent Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers. Natashia Burch Hulsey has launched a web site for a Second District challenge to Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, while Democrats Paul Spencer and Bob Edwards are both taking steps to explore a potential challenge.

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