The U.S. Capitol building. (SkyNoir Photography by Bill Dickinson/Getty Images).
A retired Army colonel this week became the first Democrat to announce plans to run against U.S. Rep. French Hill for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District seat.
Marcus Jones, 51, of Little Rock filed with the Federal Election Commission Monday, less than two months after his retirement from the U.S. Army.
“French Hill isn’t a bad guy; he’s just the wrong guy,” Jones said in a statement. “Arkansas is the best state in the country. We shouldn’t be stagnating. My years of service protecting our nation compel me to run for this position, because we can do better. As our congressman, I will fight to ensure every hard-working Arkansan can achieve their God-given potential. Together, we will build a fair system that doesn’t knock you down every time you get a little bit ahead. We will win this race by ignoring the chaos in Washington and focusing on the issues that matter most to our families here in Central Arkansas.”
Jones retired in September after 29 years in the Army. Among several overseas assignments, he served on multiple deployments to Iraq and Kuwait as a field artillery officer. His final assignment was as senior Army advisor to the Arkansas Army National Guard at Camp Robinson, according to his campaign.
Jones is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and he holds master’s degrees from Webster University in management and leadership and the Army War College in strategic studies.
After a military career abroad, Jones, his wife and two children in 2020 returned to settle in Arkansas, his campaign announcement said.
“I was lucky enough to serve our country and have the support of a loving family who kept me grounded and sustained me through multiple deployments,” Jones said. “No matter where I served, I never lost my love of Arkansas, because growing up here taught me how to be a successful Soldier. But now, our families don’t have the same opportunities that I had. We are headed in the wrong direction.”
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Hill, a banker from Little Rock, was first elected to Congress in 2014, and the Republican has fended off several well-funded challenges from Democrats since.
He told the Saline Courier last week that he planned to seek reelection in 2024.
“The French Hill for Arkansas campaign is ready and running,” said Judith Goodson, campaign chairwoman for French Hill for Arkansas. “This month we raised more than $200,000 in local contributions at our kick-off event. We are in a very strong ballot position with $1.6 million in the bank and a strong conservative voting record which is in line with Central Arkansas voters. We will look forward to seeing who actually files next month.”
Hill is vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion. He also sits on the Subcommittee on Capital Markets. Hill is also on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The 2nd Congressional District includes most of Pulaski County and Saline, Perry, Faulkner, Conway, White, Cleburne and Van Buren counties.2021Congressional_Custom_36x40
While considered solidly Republican, it is the most competitive of the state’s four U.S. House districts.
Jones’ campaign announcement criticized Hill’s record on health care and infrastructure. It also pointed to continued discord within the House Republican caucus, which has gone two weeks without electing a new speaker of the House.
“Arkansans want effective public servants who deliver solutions to the problems Central Arkansas families face every day,” Jones said in a news release. “Whether it’s a veteran in Heber Springs, a student at UCA, a farmer in White County, or a working single parent in Little Rock, Arkansans want the same things: fair wages, good schools, and healthcare that doesn’t bankrupt you.”
Aside from Hill and Jones, no other candidates have announced intentions to run for the Central Arkansas congressional seat.
The official 2024 filing period begins Nov. 6 at noon and ends Nov. 14.
The primary will be March 14, and the general election will be held Nov. 5, 2024.
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