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Democratic social worker to run against Republican incumbent for Northwest Arkansas congressional seat

J. Scott Applewhite

From the Arkansas Advocate:

A Fayetteville clinical social worker announced Tuesday that she’ll challenge U.S. Rep. Steve Womack in 2024 for Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District seat, which covers Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith metro area.

Caitlin Draper is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with a clinical focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder and eating disorders. In addition to a private practice, Draper is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Arkansas School of Social Work.

According to her website, Draper’s campaign “will focus on lowering the cost of living and healthcare for families, protecting public education and reproductive rights and addressing the climate crisis.”

“We deserve a member of Congress who answers to the people of Arkansas — not to his party leaders,” Draper said in a statement. “As a community member who cares deeply about our neighbors in Arkansas, I have been outraged at our elected leaders’ willingness to strip away our rights and failure to deliver on their most basic responsibilities to the American people.”

Draper earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where she lives with her husband.

Although Womack had reportedly been weighing retirement at the end of 2024, he announced in September that he would seek an eighth term in Congress.

“I am uniquely positioned to make a true difference in Washington,” Womack said in a statement last month. “I remain committed to restoring our conservative values — American values that make our nation the greatest in the world.”

Womack served as mayor of Rogers for 12 years before being elected to Congress in 2010. A former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Womack is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, where he chairs the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.

Womack retired from the Arkansas Army National Guard in 2009 at the rank of Colonel after 30 years of service. Womack is a graduate of Arkansas Tech University.

The retired Army colonel and his wife have three sons and three grandsons.

The filing period for the 2024 general election opens on Nov. 6 in Arkansas and closes on Nov. 14.

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.