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State Rep. Brandt Smith to challenge Rep. Rick Crawford in 2022

District 58 Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) said he is running for the congressional seat, in...
District 58 Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) said he is running for the congressional seat, in part due to what he says he has heard from Republicans in the district in the past couple of years.(Arkansas State Legislature)
Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A four-term state representative from Craighead County said Friday that he’ll challenge incumbent Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) in next year’s GOP primary.

District 58 Rep. Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro) said he is running for the congressional seat, in part due to what he says he has heard from Republicans in the district in the past couple of years.

Smith said Republicans have told him that they do not see Crawford at local meetings, does not attend grassroots meetings on the local level, but will attend state and district meetings.

Smith said he also believes he has the background and knowledge to seek the congressional seat and can serve the district better, instead of seeking a fifth term in the state House next year. In the legislature, Smith serves as vice-chair on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee, and was House Majority Whip during the 2018 session.

The congressional district is a large district, land-wise, and covers a large swath of Arkansas from Baxter County in the west to Chicot County in the south. The district also covers several areas, including Jonesboro, Paragould, and the Little Rock and Memphis suburbs.

As for the campaign, Smith said he plans to visit as many county committees as possible between now and the May 24, 2022, primary to get his message out. He also said he feels confident about raising money for the campaign and getting support from voters, saying he has received nearly 60% of the vote in his Jonesboro district in 2016, 2020, and running unopposed in 2018.

He said he also wants Republicans to push back on the immigration issue, especially on the issue of COVID-19, saying he supports the approach from former President Donald Trump on the topic.

Crawford, who serves on the House agriculture, transportation, and intelligence committees, was elected in 2010, becoming the first Republican to win the House seat in over 100 years.

Crawford ran unopposed in 2020 and was re-elected in 2018 with 76.2% of the vote in 2016 and 68.9% of the vote in 2018.

The announcement Friday that Smith would be running drew a response from Crawford’s campaign spokesman, David Manns.

“Congressman Crawford and State Representative Smith had a brief conversation about the work that each has put into building the Republican Party. Mr. Smith may not have liked hearing more details about the extensive work Congressman Crawford has been doing, which was in direct conflict with the inaccurate assumptions on which Rep. Smith has apparently based his preliminary decision to run for Congress,” Manns said.

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