LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Democratic state representative announced Monday he’s running for the U.S. House seat representing the Little Rock area and central Arkansas, setting up a three-person primary for a GOP-controlled district that had once been considered reliably Democratic.
Rep. Clarke Tucker announced he’s seeking the party’s nomination for the 2nd Congressional District, becoming the third Democrat to run in hopes of unseating Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill. Hill was first elected to the seat in 2014 and is seeking a third term. Republicans, who control all of Arkansas’ statewide and congressional offices, have held the 2nd District seat since 2011. But Tucker said he believed Democrats can win the seat back.
“I think people respond to someone who makes sure they prioritize the people of Arkansas and the state over allegiance to a political party,” Tucker, 37, told The Associated Press. “I think the people will respond to that and I think they’ll vote for a candidate like that, whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican.”
Tucker, who has served in the state House since 2015, said he opposed efforts backed by Hill and other Republicans to repeal the federal health care overhaul. He said he supports a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children, known as “Dreamers.” He said he would support border security funding as part of an immigration deal, but doesn’t believe the wall along Mexico’s border advocated by President Donald Trump is an effective use of tax dollars.
He said he would have voted against the tax cut package approved last year, citing the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that it would lead to 4 million fewer people with health insurance by 2019 due to the repeal of the requirement that almost all Americans purchase health insurance. He also cited concerns about the measure adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit.
“The Democrats have a spirited primary ahead of them and I look forward to contrasting my record of lower taxes, smaller government and a stronger economy against Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ record of higher taxes, bigger government, and a weaker economy,” Hill said in a statement.
Two other Democrats, Gwendolynn Combs and Paul Spencer, previously announced their bids for the 2nd District nomination in the May 22 primary. Combs on Monday criticized Tucker, the son of a real estate developer, as having a background too similar to Hill, a former banking executive.
“Voters are looking at the 2018 midterms as an opportunity to elect candidates who understand what it’s like to be an Arkansan who doesn’t come from money or privilege,” she said in a statement. “I am a candidate of the people, for the people.”
Tucker responded that his background was “working across the aisle in the Arkansas Legislature to get things done for all Arkansans.”
“I believe the people of Central Arkansas will welcome a chance to once again have an independent voice in Congress for the families of this district,” he said.
Spencer said he welcomed Tucker to the race.
“The Democratic Party has always fostered multiple points of view, and we believe Arkansans will be well-served by the strong and differing policy positions we represent,” he said in a statement.
Hill reported having more than $1.3 million in the bank for his re-election bid last month. Spencer reported having $128,000, while Combs had more than $10,000.
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