Scott Ellington Challenges Rick Crawford for Arkansas US House

JONESBORO — Incumbent Rep. Rick Crawford was confident entering Tuesday's general election as he sought to keep his U.S. House seat despite Congress' inability to pass a farm bill.

The eastern Arkansas district that Crawford represents — and wants to maintain — encompasses nearly all of the Arkansas Delta and is heavily dependent on agriculture. Crawford, a Republican, skipped the GOP national convention to dedicate time to passing a five-year farm bill worth nearly $500 million, but House and Senate members went home for the election season without the bill coming up for a vote.

The Democratic challenger, prosecutor Scott Ellington, argued that Crawford failed to help farmers and should be replaced. Crawford countered that it was more important to get the nation's farm policy correct, even if it did not fit his opponent's schedule.

Green Party nominee Jacob Holloway and Libertarian nominee Jessica Paxton also are in the race.

Crawford has said he would work to repeal the new federal health care law, though there are portions he would now seek to retain, particularly a portion on maintaining insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Ellington said he would want to retain the law, though there are tweaks he would make.

Crawford's victory two years ago was the first for Republicans in the district since Reconstruction. Democrats redrew the district following the 2010 census to include more traditionally Democratic areas of southeastern Arkansas in the district, but Ellington has enjoyed only limited fundraising and suffered through organization problems.

Since announcing his candidacy in March, Ellington has had three campaign managers.

Crawford has raised $1.2 million — about four times that for Ellington.

Ellington was off the campaign trail part of the summer as he handled the trial of a man convicted of shooting and killing a Trumann police officer last year. His most noteworthy case involved the negotiation of a deal last year that freed three men convicted of killing three Cub Scouts in West Memphis in 1993.

Crawford steered away from mentioning the high-profile deal on the campaign trial.

Crawford's proposal to impose a surtax on millionaires in exchange for a federal balanced budget amendment angered conservatives. Two years ago, Crawford said in a television advertisement that he would not vote to raise taxes.

Crawford has since gone a step further with the proposal, vowing to not support any budget resolution or increase in the budget ceiling unless Congress also passes a balanced budget amendment or some other permanent spending limitation.

Ellington called Crawford's tax plan a campaign stunt.

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