A state House seat in central Arkansas now has two candidates vying for the Republican nomination, as the chief of staff for Arkansas' lieutenant governor announced Monday his intent to run.
David Ray, 33, of Maumelle said Monday that he will seek the GOP nomination for House District 40. Republican Karyn Maynard, a Sherwood insurance agent and small-business owner, previously said she will run.
The seat, which represents mostly unincorporated areas of north Pulaski and south Faulkner counties, now is held by state Rep. Douglas House, R-North Little Rock. House said Monday that he doesn't plan to seek re-election with Ray and Maynard in the race.
Ray, who has worked in Republican Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin's office since 2017, said he wants to fight for lower taxes, limited government and Arkansas values in the state House of Representatives.
"For over a decade, I have fought to advance our shared conservative values, and my goal is to protect our God-given individual liberties and to make Arkansas the best possible place to live, work, raise a family, and start a business," Ray said in a news release.
Ray has also worked on Republican congressional campaigns in Arkansas and throughout the region, including as a spokesman for Tom Cotton's first U.S. Senate campaign in 2014. He has also worked as the state director for the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity and as the Republican Party of Arkansas' communications director.
Ray is the second member of Griffin's staff to announce intentions to run for a state legislative seat. Last week, Ben Gilmore, Griffin's communications director, announced that he would seek to challenge Democratic state Sen. Eddie Cheatham of Crossett in next year's general election.
Ray said that if elected, he would leave his post in Griffin's office to seek employment outside state government.
Ray is a Tennessee native. He first moved to Arkansas for college, graduating from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville.
Continued changes to Arkansas' tax structure would be a primary focus, Ray said. He applauded legislation passed earlier this year to reduce income tax rates.
"Great progress has been made so far, but there's still more progress to be made, particularly on personal income and corporate income taxes," Ray said in an interview. "Taxes that affect small businesses like the franchise tax, there's a number of areas that we could address to improve our business climate in Arkansas."
Ray said he opposes abortion except in cases when the life of the mother is at risk.
He said he has concerns about the long-term effects of Arkansas' version of Medicaid expansion that provides health insurance to about 250,000 Arkansans.
"I have long expressed my concern over the long-term costs of Medicaid expansion, which is why I strongly support Gov. [Asa] Hutchinson's proposal to institute a work requirement and change the eligibility threshold. I think it's more important now than ever to institute policies that move people from dependency to self-sufficiency."
Ray also said he'd be a strong proponent for school-choice policies.
Maynard on Monday said she was surprised to hear that Ray had announced plans to run for the same nomination because she had viewed voting records for Ray that indicated he lived in a part of Maumelle that was in House District 39.
Ray said he and his family recently moved to a house that would support their growing family. Ray's voter registration on file with the Arkansas secretary of state's office shows that he is registered in District 40.
Maynard, an agency director at the Everett Agencies of National Life who also owns a consulting business, emphasized her roots in the district, noting that she was born and raised around Little Rock Air Force Base. She questioned whether Ray could effectively represent the district without having lived there and been involved in the community.
"When you're elected to serve a district, I think you should have roots in that district," Maynard said.
Ray said he and his wife had lived in north Pulaski County for the past seven years, and he cited endorsements from Griffin and Cotton.
Maynard said those endorsements were nice but that neither Griffin nor Cotton lived in District 40. She pointed to endorsements she had from various members of community organizations and elected officials in the district, including Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Phil Stowers and Pulaski County Special School District School Board member Shelby Thomas.
The party filing period will be from noon Nov. 4 until noon Nov. 12. Next year's primary election will be March 3, and the general election will be Nov. 3.
State lawmakers are paid $41,393 a year in salary, while the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore make $47,277 a year. In addition, legislators are paid per diem and mileage for attending legislative meetings.
Metro on 08/27/2019