I am excited to announce my candidacy to represent the honorable, decent, hardworking families of Central Arkansas in Congress. Throughout my life, my own family has taught me the values of hard work, opportunity, integrity, loyalty, and a duty to serve. I’ve worked to uphold those values in my public service, and I teach them to my two children every day,” said Clarke.Paul Spencer responded to the announcement:
“But my life changed last year. As I lived through and beat cancer, I watched as Congress voted to make our healthcare more expensive, undo good programs like Arkansas Works, and strip away health care for Arkansans with pre-existing conditions. I have watched as politicians used children’s health insurance as a bargaining chip, placing greater loyalty to their political party than to our state and country, and I decided I could no longer stand by and watch.”
“I want to welcome State Representative Clarke Tucker into this race and reaffirm my belief that a vigorous, policy-focused debate between competing campaigns is always healthy for our democracy. The Democratic Party has always fostered multiple points of view, and we believe Arkansans will be well-served by the strong and differing policy positions we represent.Gwen Combs welcomed Tucker, too, but took a dig at him for a privileged background similar to Hill's and said, "I'm in it to win it." Her statement:
The people of Arkansas, and Americans across the nation, are seeking solutions that the political establishment and D. C. consultants have failed to offer in recent years. They are tired of tepid incremental policies that fail to address the systemic underlying problem of the ever-widening inequality that defines American life in the 21st century.
It is no longer acceptable simply to play defense in response to the dystopian legislative agenda of the modern Republican party and Representative French Hill. If Democrats want to win back House Districts like the Second, we must no longer be afraid of making bold, progressive demands on the issues that matter most to average Americans, such as Medicare For All, a $15/ hour minimum wage, paid maternity leave, automatic voter registration, fair tax reform for workers, rural broadband access, debt-free higher education, and comprehensive campaign finance reform that addresses the special interest control of Washington D.C.
I look forward to discussing these and other issues in the primary campaign and to continuing to reach out and visit with the voters in every community of the Second District.”
Combs, a Little Rock public school teacher and U.S. Air Force veteran, contends that she has both the supporters and the momentum needed to unseat Hill, a retired and wealthy banker who alleges to represent constituents living in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District - even though his recent votes on healthcare and tax “reform” would suggest otherwise.
Tucker’s background is too similar to that of Hill’s, Combs said.
“Voters are looking at the 2018 midterms as an opportunity to elect candidates who understand what it’s like to be an Arkansan who doesn’t come from money or privilege,” she said. “I am a candidate of the people, for the people.”
Combs said that her role as a public school teacher has helped her become intimately familiar with the needs of Arkansas students and their families, whether they live in the rural, suburban or inner-city areas of the 2nd Congressional District. She also understands what it means to be a veteran in search of support and healthcare after service to the country.
Combs contends that the number of first-time candidates who are women clearly reflects a collective desire for dramatic change in the makeup of state and federal leadership.
“The root cause of our struggle is the power differential between men and women in local, state and federal government,” Combs explained. “If we hope to level the playing field, we need to have more representation of women and other marginalized populations in positions where we can truly make a difference.”
She also understands the significance of what it means to be a woman seeking to enter the political arena, which has long been dominated by men.
“After years of grappling with - at best, inequities in pay and promotions - and, at worst, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, women decided that 2017 would be the year to break their silence and move forward as a united sisterhood. And we believe that 2018 will be the year that our voices are finally heard.”
Combs was the lead organizer of the 2017 Women's March for Arkansas, which drew more than 7,000 people, the largest crowd at such an event in state history. Last weekend, on January 20, she organized and led March On, Arkansas, which featured speeches from progressive women running for local, state and U.S. offices. The march ended at the steps of the state Capitol, where attendees remained for the 8th Annual Rally for Reproductive Justice.
Beyond the march, Combs wants to establish a cooperative sisterhood of Arkansas's female Democratic candidates who recognize that they are stronger together and that winning elections requires a more concerted effort for women. She hopes members will agree to support and boost the signal of fellow women candidates to increase their collective chances of winning.