Tracy Steele will run for House District 72 seat; Darlene Gaines bows out

Former state Sen. Tracy Steele is shown in this Nov. 3, 2020 file photo. Steele, of North Little Rock, announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the House District 72 seat. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staton Breidenthal)
Former state Sen. Tracy Steele is shown in this Nov. 3, 2020 file photo. Steele, of North Little Rock, announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the House District 72 seat. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staton Breidenthal)

Former state Sen. Tracy Steele of North Little Rock announced Tuesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the House District 72 seat.

In October, Darlene "Goldi" Gaines, CEO of the Arkansas Anti-Poverty Group, announced her bid for the Democratic nomination for the House District 72 seat, which is currently held by Democrat Jamie Scott of North Little Rock. In August, Scott announced she is running for the state Senate District 12 seat held by retiring Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock.

But Gaines said Tuesday she changed her mind about running because of "an expected event," without providing any specifics.

Gaines, who had said she planned to step down from the Democratic Party of Arkansas state treasurer post to run for the state House seat, said she will return to her post at the party.

Steele said Tuesday in a news release that "Arkansas is dealing with some of our most challenging problems ever.

“Leadership is more important now than ever before and that’s why I am running for State Representative," he said. "Strong leadership is needed to increase the wages of working Arkansans and put more of their own money back into their pockets. I’ve been blessed with valuable experience of the legislative process and have championed policies that continue to help people today. This experience gives me the ability to get things done for the people of my district and find common ground for a better future.”

Steele previously served stints in the state Senate and state House of Representatives and has served as director of the state's Health Services Permit Agency for the past several years. He serves on the North Little Rock School Board and is a former executive director of the state's Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.

Prior to the 2014 gubernatorial election, Steele said he supported then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson because Hutchinson "would be the best leader of the state." In the 2014 election, Hutchinson defeated Democratic-gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross. Hutchinson served as governor from 2015 until early January of this year.

Gaines, a former advance medical support assistant, ran unsuccessfully for commissioner of state lands in 2022.

Information for this article was contributed by Neal Earley of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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