BCN Staff – Jan. 5, 2022 – Arkansas has another politician seeking to become the first Black Congressman in state history.
State Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville, announced today (Jan. 5) that he will run against incumbent Republican Congressman Rick Crawford of Jonesboro, who has held the seat since 2011.
In conjunction with his surprise announcement, Hodges said he plans to make first-day campaign stops in Blytheville, West Memphis, and Jonesboro. In a news release, the Blytheville native who has served in the Arkansas House of Representatives since 2013 said his campaign will be focused on empowering voters and protecting voting rights, investing in the Delta and rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, representing farmers caught in costly trade wars, and transforming a flawed criminal justice system.
By throwing his hat in the ring for redrawn 1st District that stretches from the several counties abutting the Missouri line in Northeast Arkansas to Chicot County in the far Southeast corner of the state, Hodges could become Arkansas’ first Black congressman if he were to defeat the incumbent Republican. Sen. Joyce Elliott, the Little Rock senator who is term-limited at the end of 2022, also sought that distinction but lost her bid to win the 2nd District congressional seat in the 2020 general election against U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock, also a Republican.
With today’s announcement, Hodges now only has five months to raise cash and organize his campaign before the Democratic Primary in May and the general election in November 2022. In October, State Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, announced his intention to challenge Crawford on the Republican ticket. To date, there are no other Democratic that have announced plans to run for the 1st District seat.
As a five-term state legislator Hodges’s record of accomplishment helped usher in a $1 billion economic development project that has turned his home county into one of the top steel producers in the nation; expanded healthcare to more than 200,000 working Arkansans; and has helped move Arkansas down the road toward real criminal justice reform.
Rep. Hodges’ campaign is also embarking on an eight-day campaign tour reaching every county in the district. The tour begins with a Prayer Breakfast in his hometown of Blytheville, a press conference at the site of the previously shut down I-40 Bridge in West Memphis, and with a kickoff event in downtown Jonesboro. Hodges said he will travel through the heart of the Delta, meeting with folks in historic places like Elaine, and then into the unrivaled beauty of the Ozarks with a final event in Harrison.
Hodges, an ordained minister, is married to Rhonda (Morris) Hodges of Joiner, Arkansas and they have a 13-year-old son, Jeremiah. Monte and his family attend Wellsprings Church in Blytheville. He is also senior vice president of commercial lending at Southern Bancorp Bank in Blytheville.
The Northeast Arkansas lawmaker is currently serving his fifth term in the Arkansas House. He is currently co-chair of JBC Peer Review and serves on the Revenue & Taxation Committee, Insurance Commerce and Joint Budget. Hodges was also appointed by the House Speaker to serve on the Budgets and Revenue Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for the 2017 – 2018 biennium. He was elected during the 93rd General Assembly as the 2021-2022 Chair of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus (ALBC).
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