Arkansas: Boozman Sets Off Open-Seat Scramble

Posted February 8, 2010 at 5:43pm

Rep. John Boozman (R) made his Senate bid official on Saturday, touching off the third open-seat House race this cycle in the Natural State.

One of the biggest potential candidates being floating in the northwestern 3rd district took his name out of the mix on Monday.

Former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R), who preceded Boozman, said that he will not attempt a political comeback this year.

“I have had no desire to return even though the current problems facing our nation caused me to evaluate whether I should return to public life,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “I am delighted that there are good people that are willing to run for this seat in Congress, and I concluded that I am not indispensable to the survival of our republic.”

Rogers Mayor Steve Womack and retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Bernie Skoch are officially in the GOP race. Other names mentioned as possible candidates include state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe and state Rep. Jonathan Barnett as well as Benton County Judge Dave Bisbee.

However, some national Republicans are high on former U.S. Attorney Bob Balfe as a possible candidate.

If Balfe runs, he would be the second former U.S. attorney running for Congress in Arkansas next year. Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin (R) is running to succeed retiring Rep. Vic Snyder (D) in the 2nd district.

Meanwhile, Boozman’s entry into the Senate contest has shaken up the GOP field. Businessman Tom Cox announced Friday that he was ending his campaign, and Arkansas papers reported Saturday that Army veteran Buddy Rogers is also withdrawing from the contest.

Boozman’s biggest competition in the primary is likely to be state Sen. Gilbert Baker (R), who had been viewed as the frontrunner for the nomination before Boozman entered the race.