Jonesboro attorney Nate Looney announced today he’s running for the General Assembly as a Democrat. He’ll challenge Republican Brandt Smith, a first term representative, for the House District 58 seat.
In 2014, Smith beat Democrat Harold Copenhaver by a modest margin — at least by the terms of that election, which was a bloodbath for Democrats around the state.
Back in the fall of 2014, we said that the outcome of a number of legislative contests in Northeast Arkansas would be something of a bellwether for the election as whole (which was correct) and also said the results of those races would “likely … be very, very, very close” and that Democratic incumbents such as Copenhaver were still the favorites (which was very, very, very incorrect).
Instead, moderate Dems like Copenhaver, Robert Thompson of Paragould and James McLean of Batesville (who was seeking a Senate seat) were felled left and right.
But hope springs eternal, and a presidential election year can be a different game than a midterm. Maybe the reddening of Jonesboro isn’t as unequivocal as the 2014 election results suggested. Or maybe we’re being naive.
Here’s Looney’s full announcement:
JONESBORO, Ark.—Jonesboro native and Attorney Nate Looney launched his campaign for the Arkansas General Assembly on Wednesday, August 19th. “I am thrilled to be part of this process, and I’m excited about the opportunity to talk with voters in District 58 about our state’s future,” said Looney.
As a member of the state legislature, Looney said his primary focus will be to work with community leaders and residents to enhance economic development activity in the region. “Economic development is directly linked to health care, education, and infrastructure. As a state, we must make investments in these areas now if we are going to be competitive in the future,” said Looney.
Looney believes Arkansas is at a major crossroads. In the next legislative session, the General Assembly will face issues like determining the fate of the private option, prison overcrowding, and declining funding for higher education and highways.
“Our state is in a crucial place right now. In January of 2017, the state legislature will be tasked with handling some incredibly important issues that will impact lives and the trajectory of our state. Jonesboro deserves a seat at the table for these discussions,” said Looney.
One of the greatest challenges Looney sees facing our state today is the political environment. In a time plagued by political gridlock, Looney desires to see a return of civility in government. “People are tired of all the fighting and all the political games. People want and deserve results.”
If elected to office, Looney stated that he will be a consensus builder in Little Rock. “It is my belief that there is always some common ground and that neither party has a monopoly on good ideas. If given the opportunity to serve, I will work with people from all different backgrounds, walks of life, and parties to advance policies that help people in our state,” said Looney.
Looney is a graduate of Jonesboro High School and served as student council president. Looney graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and a minor in Economics from the University of Arkansas. While on campus, he was elected president of the student body. Additionally, Looney obtained a Masters of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law.
Looney practices law with an Arkansas-based law firm. Prior to returning to Jonesboro to practice law, Looney served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas.
“The first move of the campaign will be to meet prospective voters throughout District 58. I’m humbled by the support we have received from Jonesboro voters so early in the process,” said Looney.
“Growing up in Arkansas, I have seen people beat the odds time and time again. I’ve learned a lot of significant life lessons from folks in our community. One thing that I will never forget is that we are all better off when working together. Together we can build a better Arkansas—a state that will reflect the ingenuity, sacrifice, and dedication of those that have come before us. Together we will build a state that we are proud of, a state that is competitive, and a state that is prosperous for years to come. I look forward to partnering with the people of Jonesboro in this important work,” said Looney.