JONESBORO/PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – With three weeks before the Democratic Runoff Election between former state representative and senator Tim Wooldridge and former Marion Berry chief of staff Chad Causey, both campaigns said Wednesday they're reaching out to voters who have not yet decided who to vote for.
Wooldridge took the majority of votes Tuesday night by defeating Causey with 39% of the total vote. Causey received 27% of the vote. At third place was David Cook with 15% of the vote. Causey and Wooldridge advanced to a runoff.
"We're feeling very good. We're gratified. We're humbled. We're flattered by the support and when you consider that in essence we're running against the Washington inside," said Wooldridge. "Congressman Berry has endorsed my opponent. They've raised a tremendous amount of money from outside the district. We've raised 95 percent of the money from Arkansas."
"We've been humbled and excited by the outpouring of support and the level of support we've been able to build in this short time of this campaign," said Causey.
Wooldridge received 71% of the vote in Greene County, which is where he grew up. Causey, a Craighead County native, received 1,366 votes in the same community.
"I didn't have a labor endorsement. I didn't have an endorsement of the current sitting member of congress, didn't have near the amount of money they had to spend, and yet we won with about 12,000 votes over our closest opponent. We're just grateful for that," said Wooldridge.
Causey also took his home county by receiving 4,387 votes; however, Wooldridge was able to obtain 3,836 votes in Craighead County.
"This morning, early I was out here on the street corner in my home community where we got about 71 percent of the vote and I'm grateful for that to just hold up a sign to let them know that I'm here saying thanks and in fact, one of the motorists said, 'where are all the other politicians' and I said, well I'm one that always wants to stop and say thank you," said Wooldridge.
"I've never run for office in my life. This is my first venture into the political realm as a, putting my name on the ballot," said Causey. "We have built on the solid foundation of a positive message, communicating with eastern and north-central Arkansas about getting to work to create jobs."
Causey said his primary focus is to create jobs in Arkansas by creating biofuel technology and increasing natural gas production.
"What I promise and commit to the people of the first district is that no one will work harder or no one will listen longer or take this responsibility any more seriously than I will," said Causey. "My message about job creation and growth here is about getting to American energy independence in this country. We spend billions and billions of dollars on Middle Eastern oil. We could be investing in research and technologies right here at home."
"Those things will create revenue into the local economies, create jobs right here at home instead of sending money overseas, that's how we get job creation right here in Arkansas," said Causey.
Wooldridge also said job creation is important. He said educational opportunities needs to be explored to fuel job growth.
"We've got to be about the business of job creation and I always talk about the importance of education and being lifelong learners. I'm actually doing graduate work currently in economic development," said Wooldridge. "We've got to build leadership capacity. We've got to build infrastructure and that infrastructure has to include things like broadband."
"Years ago, if a city wasn't on a river or wasn't on a railroad or wasn't on an interstate, they didn't have success. With the infrastructural needs we have in this ideas, knowledge based economy, we've got to do things to make sure that every place in the 1st District of Arkansas has those kinds of opportunities so it's about job creation," said Wooldridge.
Wooldridge and Causey will face off June 8th, when voters will head back to the polls to nominate a candidate. The winner will face GOP nominee Rick Crawford, who defeated Princella Smith with 73% of the vote.
"Politics was about working together to find solutions, bringing different ideas to the same problem, and working to find solutions moving forward. I think we can get back there," said Causey. "While everyday Arkansans are struggling to make ends meet, Washington, most of them, are bickering and fighting and I think Arkansans are tired of it and they're ready for someone to roll up their sleeves and go to work for them."
"I think one has to credential themselves in order to make the right to ask. I think that voters want someone that's like them. Someone that's raised a family, someone that's made house payments and car payments," said Wooldridge. "My task over these next three weeks while we will have a more strategic approach to a runoff election."
"I want the people of the first district to know that when Tim Wooldridge goes to congress, I'll continue to listen to them," said Wooldridge.
Both candidates also said balancing the federal budget was a top priority.
"Arkansas families balance their checkbook every week. The state of Arkansas balances a checkbook every month. There's no reason why the federal government shouldn't be balancing theirs," said Causey.
"We had the Revenue Stabilization act of Arkansas and simply put that is that we do not spend what we do not have. That's what we do at home and I think the same thing needs to happen in Washington so when I go to Washington I'll bring the experience of 16 years in the legislature that understands revenue stabilization and understands that we cannot continue to leverage and mortgage our future," said Wooldridge.