A legal dispute has ended cattle rancher Mike Nelson’s bid for the Democratic nomination in Arkansas’ first congressional district. Nelson told Talk Business & Politics he has suspended his campaign due to a lawsuit involving his family’s farm not being resolved. He expected the suit to be adjudicated by now, but it’s likely to drag until November, hampering his chances, he said. Specifics of the suit were not released.
“I have no choice but to suspend … I’m not dead,” he said. “If I can run in 2020, I will do so, either the House or possibly the Senate.”
Robert Butler of Maramaduke is now the only declared candidate in the Democratic primary for the seat. Jim Huff has contemplated a run. No one has emerged to challenge U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro during his primary. He’s been the congressman for the district since 2010.
Nelson, a 48-year-old farmer from Arkansas County, had become a fixture around the district in recent months, attending civic meetings and other gatherings. He often donned a distinctive eye-patch, and shot provocative barbs at Crawford, Arkansas’s two U.S. senators, John Boozman and Tom Cotton, both Republicans, and he’s taken shots at President Donald Trump.
At a town hall meeting in Jonesboro in early August, Nelson implored crowd members to talk to other voters to switch their votes from Crawford in the district.
At one point, he told attendees talking to white men over the age of 50 who’ve been voting Republican is a waste of time. Those who want to see a change need to target women voters age 50 and up who have voted Republican, but are concerned about the country’s direction. Democrats need to tell voters they won’t take their guns away, and settle the issue. He blasted the congressman and two senators for not appearing at the meeting and taking questions from constituents.
Nelson said he wasn’t running against Butler and the two appeared together at events. Both said they are running for the seat, not against each other.
Despite his suspension, Nelson said he plans to remain active in politics. He thinks Democrats need to adopt a more pro-gun platform.
“I will continue to try and be a voice for bringing job training and new businesses to eastern Arkansas,” he said. “This is our home.”