Lt. Gov. Darr formally announces for 4th District race

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 100 views 

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, R-Ark., finally made official tonight (Aug. 12) his entry into the race to replace U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, 4th District representative (Aug. 12).

In a speech tonight in his hometown of Mansfield, Darr said his run for Congress was about bringing leadership to Washington and improving the economy.

“Congress seems set on petty bickering rather than addressing unemployment and tax reform” he said. “It’s time for new leadership. It’s time to put Arkansans back to work."

Darr, who recently moved his family from Northwest Arkansas to his hometown, said if he makes it sent to Washington, he will not forget his Scott County roots.

“The establishment that is D.C. has forgotten about people like us. They have forgotten what normal looks like. Together we will change that. If you elect me to Congress, I will not forget my roots or the struggles facing Arkansans every day.”

Darr entered the campaign by taking shots at national issues, such as the recent IRS scandal and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Regarding the IRS scandal, where some conservative groups applying for non-profit status received heightened scrutiny during the application process, and the recent disclosure of the scale of domestic monitoring by the National Security Administration (NSA), the lieutenant governor said both were a "disgrace and total abuse of power by President (Barack) Obama."

Darr also touted himself as the sole statewide elected official to oppose Obamacare, which he said he would work to repeal as a Congressman.

"The train wreck of a law that will not only indebt our grand kids, but will end healthcare in America as we know it.”

The speech did not only highlight Darr's opposition to many of the policies championed by the Obama administration, but also highlighted what he said were his accomplishments while in office for two and a half years, including his signing into law Senate Bill 131, which made private the names and zip codes of concealed carry permit holders. He signed the bill as acting governor while Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe was out of state. Beebe said at the time that Darr's decision to sign the bill into law was "inappropriate."

“We brought Open Checkbook and more transparency to our state government," Darr said. "We went around the political establishment and signed a law protecting Second Amendment supporters. We have been successful and now it’s time to take our conservative values and winning team to Washington.”

While Darr may be the only candidate in the race for Congress, that will not last long as Arkansas House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman is expected to announce his campaign for Cotton's seat at a campaign rally tomorrow morning in Hot Springs.

Even though Darr is more well known, having been elected to his current statewide post in 2010, Westerman said in June he is up for the challenge.

"I've never been scared of work. I was just thinking of the job I do on a day-to-day basis and I travel a lot. If I was just traveling in Arkansas, that wouldn't be too hard at all."

Westerman has said at the time that his decision to enter the race would largely be because of the encouragement he has received from citizens in his home county.

"But a lot of people have come to me, told me I should take a look at it, living in Hot Springs with Garland County being such a large part of the fourth district."

Another candidate who may challenge both Darr and Westerman is Beth Anne Rankin of Magnolia, though she has not announced a decision on whether she would seek the seat now that Cotton has announced a run for Senate against incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.