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Updated May 19, 2010
Ross is the only Arkansas House member who is not retiring this year: Reps. Vic Snyder (D) and Marion Berry (D) are leaving office, and Rep. John Boozman is seeking the Republican Senate nomination.
Although Ross' district gave President Barack Obama just 39 percent of the vote in the 2008 White House election, the incumbent seems to be in decent shape for a sixth term.
Beth Anne Rankin, who was Miss Arkansas in 1994 and later worked for former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), won the May 18 GOP primary with 55 percent of the vote, defeating former Garland County Republican Chairman Glenn Gallas, who had 45 percent. Both have close ties to the tea party movement.
District Profile from Politics in America
Planted across most of Arkansas' southern half, the 4th is the state's largest district in area and features an abundant timber industry, small farming communities and one of the state's most lucrative tourist areas.
Tourism revolves around Hot Springs and the nearby Ouachita Mountains. Hot Springs, heralded as America's first resort, attracts tourists to its national park, and visitors hope the warm waters that were once used to treat illness will still promote relaxation.
The timber industry, located mostly in the district's western portion in and around the Ouachita Mountains, employs thousands of district residents. East of Hot Springs, the Pine Bluff Arsenal once produced the nation's supply of biological weapons. The arsenal completed scheduled destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile but still operates a center for toxicological research.
Rice, soybeans, cotton and rural poverty characterize the eastern edge of the 4th, where many Mississippi River communities have black-majority populations. Most of Arkansas' catfish production -- a prime aquaculture product of the state -- is in Chicot County.
Democrats receive their most faithful support from the Delta region. Republicans can fare better in the oil- and chemical-producing south, as well as in the western tier of counties along the Oklahoma and Texas borders. The socially conservative 4th elected its first GOP representative of the 20th century in 1992, but overwhelmingly supported Hope-born and Hot Springs-raised Bill Clinton in both of his presidential bids. The district gave former 3rd District Rep. John Boozman nearly 70 percent of its vote in the 2010 U.S. Senate race.
Timber, agriculture, livestock, tourism
Pine Bluff Arsenal (Army), 18 military, 1,360 civilian (2009)
Pine Bluff, 49,083; Hot Springs, 35,193; Texarkana, 29,919
Hot Springs, once a getaway for mobsters such as Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Al Capone in the 1930s, now hosts the Gangster Museum of America.
|2010||general||Mike Ross (D)||102,479||57.5%|
|Beth Rankin (R)||71,526||40.2%|
|Josh Drake (GREEN)||4,129||2.3%|
|2008||general||Mike Ross (D)||203,178||86.2%|
|Josh Drake (GREEN)||32,603||13.8%|
|2006||general||Mike Ross (D)||128,236||74.7%|
|Joe Ross (R)||43,360||25.3%|
|2004||general||Mike Ross (D)||unopposed|
|2002||general||Mike Ross (D)||119,723||60.6%|
|Jay Dickey (R)||77,972||39.4%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 39%||John McCain: 58%|
|2004||John Kerry: 48%||George W. Bush: 51%|
|2000||Al Gore: 49%||George W. Bush: 48%|