Arkansas: Army Vet Gears Up to Challenge Marion Berry

Republican Rick Crawford will form an exploratory committee this week as he moves toward challenging 1st district Rep. Marion Berry (D) in 2010.

Crawford, who will be on Capitol Hill on Friday to meet with GOP officials, is an Army veteran who served four years in a bomb disposal unit. After leaving the military, he became the owner and president of AGWatch, a radio network that provides farm news to 39 local radio stations.

“I’m in the exploratory phase right now, but it’s looking pretty good,— Crawford said Monday. “Where Marion Berry has enjoyed some political cover and some strength has been with the farm vote ... I think we’re going to effectively neutralize that because I have a pretty solid farm background.—

Crawford also said he believes his military credentials will help him to chip away at Berry’s support among veterans.

Berry is a Blue Dog Democrat who was unopposed in 2008, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the 1st district by more than 20 points in the presidential race. Berry’s re-election percentage has not dipped below the 60 percent mark since he was first elected in 1996. In a reflection of McCain’s solid performance, the Cook Political Report moved the district’s partisan voting index from D+1 in 2008 to R+8 in 2010.

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