Pine Bluff attorney Risie Howard files as Democratic challenger to Rep. Bruce Westerman as filling period closes

Risie Howard
Risie Howard

Pine Bluff attorney Risie Howard filed to run for Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District Tuesday, meaning Democrats will challenge Republican incumbents in all four of Arkansas’ U.S. House seats in the 2024 election.

Howard was the last Arkansas Democrat to announce a run for U.S. congressional seat, waiting until the last day of filing. She will challenge five-time incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, of Hot Springs, who filed to run for reelection last week.

Howard said she planned to support expanding youth programs to keep juveniles out of the judicial system.

“I think we have good representation as far [as] personality. I think Bruce Westerman is a nice person,” Howard said. “He has town hall meetings and calls people and stuff like that, but I don’t like the way he votes.”

Filing closed Tuesday, with a noon deadline for partisan candidates and a 3 p.m. deadline for non-partisan judicial candidates. 

John White, who ran as a Democrat for Congress in 2022, also filed to run for Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District on Tuesday as an independent candidate.

Arkansas' other three U.S. House incumbents, Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill and Steve Womack, have already filed to run for reelection and will also face challengers in 2024.

Democrat Rodney Govens of Cabot, who served in the U.S. Army and has a background working in telecommunications, filed to run for the 1st Congressional District against Crawford. Marcus Jones of Little Rock, a Democrat and retired Army colonel, is challenging Hill in the 2nd District. Democrat Caitlin Draper, a social worker from Fayetteville, is running in the general election against Womack, who is also facing a primary challenge from Republican state Sen. Clint Penzo of Springdale in the 3rd District.

A total of 351 candidates have filed for state and federal offices as of early Tuesday afternoon. Sixteen candidates filed for state and federal offices on Tuesday, the last day to file for state and federal offices.

One hundred and thirty-three candidates filed as Republicans, 97 filed as Democrats and three filed as independent candidates, according to the secretary of state's office. In addition, 118 nonpartisan judicial candidates filed.

Michael R. Wickline of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette contributed to this story.