The region appears to have a major primary shaping up as Rep. Terry Rice, R-Waldron, announced Tuesday (Jan. 14) that he would challenge Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, for the District 9 Senate seat.
In addition to Rice's announcement Tuesday, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson announced he would run for re-election to the office he has held since 1999.
In announcing his intentions, Rice said he was running for the state senate in order to continue bringing his experience as a business owner to the halls of the General Assembly.
"I'm running for the State Senate with those same principals that have guided me as a State Representative," he said. "As a business owner, I understand the pressures of making a payroll, dealing with taxes and excessive government regulations, along with the additional costs passed on to the consumers who already live on a tight budget. I live by the conservative values instilled in me by my father and grandfather — faith, family, hard work, and mature judgment."
The announcement is a reversal from August 2013 when Rice told The City Wire he did not expect to run for office during the 2014 election cycle, though he left the door open for Tuesday's announcement.
"When I ran in 2008, they called me the third day of filing after it opened and I told them absolutely no," he said, adding with a laugh that he found himself filing his paperwork to run 48 hours later. "I am a wild card to do anything. It's not in my plans right now, but you never know. I have not been out campaigning and not politicking other than trying to take care of some stuff in the interim. But I don't foresee running for anything in this next election cycle."
Rice said he would continue fighting against Obamacare should he be elected to the Senate, adding that he was a no vote on the private option.
"I will be a 'no' vote in the fiscal session, also."
Holland, who is announcing his re-election bid at a campaign kickoff event Saturday (Jan. 18) in Van Buren, said he was caught off guard by Rice's announcement, citing The City Wire's reporting.
"Terry and I have always been friends. We share some of his House district. We've always worked together well. But yeah, it surprised me a little bit that he wanted to run for the office," he said. "Back in the Fall, I believe you guys reported that he said he wasn't running for anything, but I guess he changed his mind."
The 9th Senate District includes parts of Crawford, Franklin, Scott and Sebastian Counties.
HUDSON RE-ELECTION BID
Hudson, a Republican who touts 37 years experience in county government, said his tenure as county judge "reflects conservative financial management while improving services."
A press release from his campaign lists a variety of accomplishments during his time in office:
• $2 million in courthouse renovations;
• A $4 county jail expansion; and
• A new $14.8 million courts facility.
"These projects were implemented within existing revenues without increasing taxes," the press release said.
Hudson's campaign announcement also pointed to the oft-contentious Ben Geren Aquatics Center project as a success during his time in office.
"An updated County Parks Master Plan and thee 2010 County Aquatics Feasibility Study helped guide park improvements including the 2012 Interlocal Agreement with the City of Fort Smith for construction and operation of an $10,900,000 Aquatics Facility at Ben Geren Park."
The project, with an original budget of $8 million, recently had its budget increased by $3 million in order to pay for amenities such as a wave pool, longer lazy river and other items that could not be constructed for the original budget.
Hudson, Vice President of the Arkansas County Judges Association, has no announced opponent in his bid for re-election.