WITCHERVILLE — With his family by his side, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr announced here Monday evening that he will seek the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle.

Cotton, elected to the 4th District seat in November and now less than a year into his first term, announced last week that he will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor in 2014.

When he started his political career in 2010 with a successful run for lieutenant governor, Darr said he did it with changing the country for his children in mind, and that remains his goal.

Darr, 40, campaigned for lieutenant governor in part on a promise to bring greater transparency to state government, which he said he did working across party lines as a member of the minority party in Little Rock, to push for passage of the Arkansas Financial Transparency Act of 2011.

A new website launched in July 2012 provides online information about state revenues, expenses and contracts, among other things.

Darr said he continued to work across the aisle after the GOP took a majority in the Arkansas General Assembly in the 2012 elections.

"If you can talk and reason, there doesn’t always have to be a fight," Darr said during his announcement speech inside the community building at Buckner Park.

The lieutenant governor made his announcement a day ahead of state Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, who is scheduled to announce his political plans Tuesday in his hometown.

The only Democrat to announce for the 4th District seat is teacher and author Janis Percefull, also of Hot Springs, who is to formalize her candidacy in an appearance Thursday.

Darr said Monday it’s not about scoring a touchdown on every play, but making progress, which he said he has shown he can do at the state Capitol and he believes he can also do in Washington.

He described himself as an ordinary person, and said he firmly believes when a group of ordinary people get together, "extraordinary things can happen."

Darr said that growing up in Mansfield, he was forced to leave his rural hometown to look for opportunities elsewhere.

"I think rural Arkansas needs to be represented by someone from rural Arkansas," he said Monday.

He spoke of cooperation, the importance of his parents and his family, and his Scott County upbringing.

He also said taxes are too high, Congress should focus on securing the nation’s southern border before immigration reform, and he accused President Barack Obama for using agencies "like the IRS" to spy on those who disagree with him.

Darr pledged to continue his fight against the Affordable Care Act, which he said the country can’t afford.

Still, Darr said in an interview after his speech that politicians need to roll up their sleeves up and work for the people, not roll them up for photo opportunities, and put labels aside to get things done.

State Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, introduced Darr ahead of his announcement, and urged voters to support him "so he can take his character and values to Washington D.C."

Darr and his wife, Kim, have two children, Madison and Cooper. The family is moving from their home in Rogers, in the 3rd District, to the Mansfield area.


Jeff Arnold writes for the Times Record in Fort Smith.