Well, the Second District Congressional race just got interesting.
One hour before the filing deadline on Tuesday (Nov. 12), State Senator Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, often referred to as the liberal lioness of the Arkansas Senate, announced she would challenge incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, in 2020. Elliott was the Democratic nominee for the seat in 2010 losing to Hill’s predecessor, now Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin.
“I’m excited about this. I’m doing this because I know change needs to happen,” Elliott said before a group of supporters at the Old Supreme Courtroom. “I believe in stepping forward and making a difference. When I leave this Earth, I want to be settled in my soul that I have done what I was put here to do.”
Elliott, 68, a former educator and currently Legislative Outreach Director for the College Board’s Southwestern Region, has served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2001-2005 and the Arkansas Senate since 2009. She is in the middle of a four-year State Senate term.
During her legislative years, she has been a fierce public school supporter, pro-choice and women’s rights advocate, reformer of the prison system, health reform proponent, and led on many efforts to improve children’s welfare and civil rights. Elliott also co-sponsored and passed legislation to support highway funding, teacher pay raises, and economic development incentives. She is the chair of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus.
Elliott has opposed the expansion of school vouchers and charter schools. She also fought a number of efforts to expand gun access in previous sessions. Lately, she has been a vocal critic of the governor and the state Board of Education’s handling of returning the Little Rock School District to local control.
If elected, she would be the first woman to represent the Second District in Congress. She would also be the first person of color elected to federal office in Arkansas since Reconstruction.
Elliott defeated a field of four Democratic primary challengers in 2010. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, former Republican Congressman from the Second District, beat Elliott 58-38% in their 2010 open seat match-up.
Hill won re-election in 2018 against Democrat Clarke Tucker by a 52-46% margin.
Talk Business & Politics will update this story later today.