Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

Second Republican Enters Race to Replace Cotton | #AR04

The field to succeed Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., grew Tuesday when Arkansas House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman announced his bid for the 4th District race.

“I’ve served in the state Legislature, I’m currently serving as majority leader, and I realized the struggle that we’re up against as a state dealing with top down government in Washington,” Westerman said in a Tuesday phone interview about why he decided to run. “It’s time to go and try and change some of that.”

Westerman marks the second Republican to enter the contest — one day after Lt. Gov Mark Darr announced he would seek the seat. The field may grow further in the race to replace Cotton, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in 2014.

Democrats argue their chances at picking up this district have increased now that it’s an open-seat contest. But it won’t be easy, as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by a 26-point margin in 2012.

Currently, community college professor Janis Percefull is the only Democrat in the race. But Democrats are also courting Greg Hale, a cattle farmer who sits on the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, to run.

Democratic consultants say Hale’s background and ties to the Clintons — he worked as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s trip director during her 2008 presidential bid — will make him a formidable opponent. From South Africa, where he is currently working for the Clinton Foundation, Hale told CQ Roll Call he is considering a bid but has not yet made a final decision on the race.

“I’m a cattle farmer for one. I grew up in the district. I grew up in a Baptist church in southwest Arkansas, so I understand how people feel,” Hale said in an early August phone interview. “I might be a little left of where they are on some issues, but at the same time from an economic perspective, I understand where those jobs need to be created. I think that even though I’m a Democrat, I can relate to the district probably more than anyone else.”

Arkansas’ 4th District is rated a Safe Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • ID-2

    The Clintons are still so popular in Arkansas we all know.

    • terjeanderson

      A recent poll from a Republican pollster showed Hillary defeating both Chris Christie and Rand Paul in Arkansas. And Bill is still very popular in the state. Being tied to the Clintons in the ancestrally very Democratic 4th district would be a real plus for a candidate.

      • ID-2

        Show me the Name ID numbers in that poll and if they are remotely close I might worry.

      • ID-2

        Though I will grant you a conservative Democrat can win the 4th District. Traditionally it has been the swing part of the district for state elections, even federal elections. Of course this is a double-edged sword this year. Cotton comes from the region meaning Pryor will have a hard time getting decent margins out of the area. Considering since 2002 this region has tremendously helped successful Democrats win statewide bids that is bad news for Mr. Incumbent.

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