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Arkansas Democratic candidates file to run for Congress

Candidates: Rodney Govens, Caitlin Draper and Marcus Jones are standing next to Vortex leader Chris Jones.
Courtesy Photo
(From left) VortexPAC Executive Director Robb Ryerse, Democratic candidates Rodney Govens, Caitlin Draper and Marcus Jones, and VortexPAC co-founder Chris Jones stand on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock Monday.

Many candidates running for office in 2024 completed their paperwork at the Arkansas State Capitol on Monday. That includes three Democratic candidates running against Republican incumbents for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives; Rodney Govens in District 1, Marcus Jones in District 2, and Caitlin Draper in District 3.

The three candidates were endorsed by VortexPAC, a federal hybrid PAC run by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones. Standing on the steps of the State Capitol, Jones said he wanted to make Arkansas more of a “voting state” by giving citizens more reasons to get out and vote.

“It's time for a change,” he said. “It's time for us to bring average Arkansans who are rooted in Arkansas to the table, and give Arkansans an option for who to represent them in their congressional districts.”

Jones said he was drawn to the three candidates after hearing “their neighbors talk so highly of them.”

Candidate Rodney Govens is running for House District 1 in east Arkansas. District 1 is home to Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, who will presumably run as an incumbent.

Govens cited his military service as one reason for launching his campaign.

“We pay way more in taxes than most people realize,” he said. “So why is it that we are still running into the same potholes.”

Govens grew up in the foster care system and now works as a special advocate for foster children. The issue is extremely dear to him.

“I am running to represent every Arkansan, not just the Arkansans that wants to bully others into their way of thinking.”

Meanwhile, retired Army Col. Marcus Jones is the Democratic candidate for House District 2, covering the central part of the state. He wants his campaign to focus on “kitchen table issues.”

“I am progressive on most social issues,” he said. “But the issues that I am focused on in this campaign, quite frankly, are the things that I interact with, and I talk to citizens about, when I go around the district. What they are most interested in talking about is wages, the economy, job growth, and healthcare in particular.”

Jones is running against Republican Rep. French Hill, who has served in the house since 2015.

Caitlin Draper is a clinical social worker in Northwest Arkansas.

“I see suffering every day at my practice,” she said. “I am running to make a change.”

She is running in Republican Rep. Steve Womack’s district.

Abortion rights are important to Draper. She says several of her clients have struggled to access abortions under current laws.

“Women are going to die,” she said about abortion restrictions.

She also feels passionately about climate change and gun control.

The filling period ends November 14.

Correction: an earlier version of this story called Vortex a SuperPAC. It is actually a Federal Hybrid Pac.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.