Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington of Jonesboro said he is “giving some contemplation” to entering the Democratic primary for 1st District Congress. State Rep. Clark Hall of Marvell and Gary Latanich, an ASU professor, have already announced as candidates to take on first-term Republican incumbent Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro.
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Ellington, who’d long been mentioned as a potential candidate, had seemed to put the idea aside after he played a key role in an agreement that resulted in the release of the West Memphis Three, convicted in the 1993 slayings of three 8-year-old West Memphis boys. They pleaded guilty, while still asserting innocence, and were released for time served. Ellington, who was not the original prosecutor in the case, said then that they were likely to win a pending request for a new trial and that new evidence, plus the erosion of trial evidence, made it appear unlikely the state could again win convictions.
Ellington, 48, said today, “A lot of folks have been giving me calls urging me to pull the trigger on this thing.” He has until noon Thursday to decide. He noted that he’d waited until the last hour of the last day to file for his current, and first, term as prosecutor two years ago. He won a hotly contested race. His only other race for public office was a race for Valley View School Board. He lost by 15 votes. “I learned a valuable lesson then,” he said. “You have to ask for everyone’s vote.”
Will the West Memphis Three case be a political issue?
“So far it hasn’t been a political issue in my judicial district and I don’t think it will be in the 1st Congressional District. It seems to be more of issue for people live on the East and West Coasts.”
“The 1st District has historically been held by a Democrat and we believe the right candidate can retake that seat. There’s enough hatred and venom going around right now. I’m willing to be somebody who’s willing to work and be a team player. I’m someone who understands the value of compromise and moving forward rather than trying to stall and risk our country’s situation as a world power out of spite or just to defeat the president.” He said Republicans in Arkansas finally came around on an extension of an unemployment tax reduction, but that decision would have been made months ago but for the opposition to President Obama.
Ellington is in the middle of a four-year term as prosecutor for a judicial district that covers some of the most populous parts of the 1st District, which spans the Delta. The district includes Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett Counties.