This fall, Republicans hope to claim Arkansas’s 4th Congressional District, one of the few Democratic redoubts in the South. Six-term incumbent Mike Ross is retiring, and the state legislature has redrawn the district’s lines to incorporate more Republican-friendly territory. In other words, it’s ripe for a pickup. And newcomer Tom Cotton may be just the man to win it.
The Republican primary has been a hard-fought contest between the 2010 GOP nominee, Beth Anne Rankin, and Cotton, an Iraq War veteran. But in the latest Talk-Business–Hendrix College poll, Cotton has posted an 18-point lead, 51–33, over Rankin. A third candidate, John Cowart, earns only 6 percent. If Cotton wins over 50 percent of the vote, he’ll secure the nomination; if Rankin holds him under that threshold, the race will go to a runoff.
“Obviously, our campaign plan is to win on May 22,” Rankin tells NRO, but “I do think it will be a nail-biter.”
“I wouldn’t venture a prediction; I’m in the candidate’s role, not the pundit’s,” Cotton says. “But we’re certainly working hard every day to turn out our voters. It’s going to be close.”
If there is a runoff, the race will largely focus on the candidates’ personalities, as it has already. “We’ve had seven debates,” Rankin notes. “In these seven debates, we’ve seen two cents on the dollar in terms of variance on the issues. As far as what’s been publicly stated, I don’t see a huge difference between the three candidates.” All three oppose Obamacare, cap-and-trade, and Dodd-Frank, and all three support a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.