Dan Whitfield announced Wednesday (June 30) he would seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, while Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, said he would challenge incumbent Republican Secretary of State John Thurston.
Whitfield, a 34-year old information systems intern with J.B. Hunt, made his announcement in Fayetteville. He ran in 2020 as an independent to challenge U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who only had a Libertarian challenger. Whitfield did not qualify for the ballot through the signature process in 2020.
As a Democratic candidate, he’ll be running against Natalie James, a Little Rock small business owner, who announced earlier this month she would run for the U.S. Senate seat and Jack Foster, a former Pine Bluff councilman.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face incumbent Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who is seeking a third term. Boozman faces three announced primary opponents – Michael Deel, Heath Loftis and Jan Morgan.
“I truly care about the working class and poor, I care about families struggling to make ends meet,” Whitfield said in his announcement. “I will go to Washington to fight for a living wage and for lowering your taxes, to fight for Medicare-For-All and education-for-all, and to fight for your right to pursue life, liberty and freedom in these United States of America. I believe I can make a difference as your Senator giving you a voice in the legislative process.”
In a development involving another statewide race, GOP Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle said he would challenge one-term incumbent Republican Secretary of State John Thurston.
The Arkansas Secretary of State oversees management of the state capitol, certain business legal filings, and certifies election results.
Thurston previously served as Commissioner of State Lands and is eligible for a second term as Secretary of State. Thurston picked up the endorsement of Sen. Tom Cotton on Wednesday.
Lowery, a consultant and educator who was first elected to the state legislature in 2013, serves as chairman of the House Insurance and Commerce committee. Lowery said he is running for the statewide seat because he doesn’t think Thurston was active in shaping election law in the last legislative session. Lowery ran a number of bills dealing with voting law changes.
“I am challenging Thurston because I believe he has been AWOL on protecting election integrity. We had 18 bills in the 2021 session dealing with elections and neither he or anyone from his office spoke in favor of any of the bills,” Lowery tells Talk Business & Politics.
“After the numerous election improprieties that occurred in Pulaski County in 2020, I feel Arkansas needs a proactive fighter, not a figurehead, in overseeing Arkansas elections,” he added.
No Democrats have formally announced for the Secretary of State position.