U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is running for re-election, he said Wednesday.
The Republican from Dardanelle downplayed talk of a possible 2020 presidential bid, saying his focus remains on representing Arkansans on Capitol Hill.
"It's been a great honor to serve the people of Arkansas in the Senate for the last four years and I'd like to have a chance to continue to do so," he said in an interview Wednesday. "There's a lot of pressing business to keep the economy growing and keep the country safe, and I hope that the people of Arkansas will trust me to continue that work for them."
No formal campaign kickoff has yet been scheduled, he said.
"Once I help all of my colleagues with their re-elections and help expand the Senate majority this year, I'll be working starting next year toward my re-election," Cotton, 41, said.
Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Michael John Gray said Cotton will face fierce opposition if he seeks a second term.
"While we are clearly focused on our 2018 races, we have numerous qualified candidates ready to take on Senator Cotton in 2020 and challenge his lack of accomplishments for Arkansans," Gray said in a written statement.
Cotton was first elected to the Senate in 2014 after defeating incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, 56.5 percent to 39.5 percent. It was one of the most expensive contests in the country, with total spending of $67.8 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money and elections.That included $28.5 million by the candidates and $39.3 million by outside groups.
Since then, Cotton has begun rebuilding his campaign war chest.
The Cotton campaign had nearly $1.8 million cash-on-hand as of June 30, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Once the midterm elections are over, Cotton said he'll "start campaigning hard and trying to earn the vote of every Arkansan."
"We've accomplished a lot in just the last 18 months. We have record low unemployment, the economy's been growing, wages are growing. I've had a strong influence on the president's foreign policy in Iran or in counteracting Chinese aggression. So I think I have a strong record on which to run. Hopefully, I'll build on that record over the next 2.5 years as well," he said.
Asked about the 2020 White House race, Cotton said, "I plan to support the president. Most presidents run for re-election and, lately, most presidents get re-elected as well."
While the House of Representatives is enjoying its five-week summer recess, the Senate is only taking a weeklong break.
Cotton spent Wednesday morning at the state Crime Laboratory in Little Rock, touring the facility with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland.
As the visitors wandered by, experts in lab coats peered into microscopes or tapped on computers.
In one room, a technician was processing a box of marijuana, stripping the leaves and the stems from the stalks.
In the basement, Chief Medical Examiner Charles Kokes escorted the visitors around the morgue. In one piece of equipment, bloodstained articles of clothing were drying so they could be properly preserved.
After the tour, Cotton highlighted legislation he is co-sponsoring titled "The Restoring the Armed Career Criminal Act." It calls for minimum prison sentences of at least 15 years "for felons convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses," according to a summary of the legislation.
A similar law was struck down in 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some of its language was unconstitutionally vague.
The new legislation modifies the language in an attempt to eliminate any ambiguity.
"It only applies to the worst of the worst. Men and women who have committed themselves to a life of crime, multiple convictions in the past for using firearms," Cotton told reporters.
After completing the tour, Cotton spoke at the Political Animals Club about efforts to locate and repatriate the remains of servicemen who are missing in action.
The U.S. Army veteran, who served combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, was also part of The Old Guard at Arlington, a unit that appears at military and state funerals.
Roughly 82,000 service members never returned from Korea, Vietnam and the battlefields of World War II, and it's important to bring them home, Cotton said.
Later Wednesday, Cotton met with farmers, ranchers and foresters at the state Department of Agriculture offices.
A Section on 08/09/2018
Print Headline: Cotton goal: 2nd terms for himself and Trump