Fayetteville social worker eyes 3rd Congressional District seat

Caitlin Draper of Fayetteville, a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District of Arkansas, is shown in this undated photo.
Caitlin Draper of Fayetteville, a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District of Arkansas, is shown in this undated photo.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, has a Democratic opponent for next year’s 3rd Congressional District race.

Caitlin Draper of Fayetteville announced Tuesday her candidacy for the seat, more than a month after Womack launched his re-election bid for an eighth term in the House of Representatives representing Northwest Arkansas.

Draper is a licensed clinical social worker with a focus on autism spectrum disorder and eating disorders. She serves as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Arkansas School of Social Work, where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work.

She lives in Fayetteville with her husband.

Draper’s campaign filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 2, but she officially launched her campaign Tuesday as House Republicans met to nominate a new speaker, three weeks after hard-right members led a successful effort to oust Kevin McCarthy of California.

Womack supported McCarthy’s speakership. When Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan received the House Republican Conference’s support last week, Womack instead voted for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., arguing it was unfair Scalise ended his bid before the full House considered his nomination.

In a news release, Draper mentioned her professional experience, noting her work has provided a “front row seat to the destruction Republicans’ extreme power grabs have had on women and LGBTQ families.”

On her website, Draper lists supporting legislation protecting abortion rights and addressing systemic discrimination as other priorities if elected to Congress.

“As a community member who cares deeply about our neighbors in Arkansas, I have been outraged at our elected leaders’ willingness to strip away our rights and failure to deliver on their most basic responsibilities to the American people,” she said in her release.

“From restoring reproductive freedom to lowering costs for working families, in Congress I will fight every day to protect our democracy and deliver for the people of Arkansas with empathy, compassion, and accountability. Our families deserve no less.”

Other issues of importance included disability rights, climate change and health care access.

Womack has served on Capitol Hill since January 2011 after a 12-year tenure as the mayor of Rogers. Womack retired from the Arkansas Army National Guard in 2009 at the rank of colonel, capping a military career spanning more than three decades.

Womack serves as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and chairman of its Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.

When he announced his reelection bid in September, Womack set the following priorities: addressing the Biden administration’s “far-left agenda,” supporting the United States military and serving residents of northwest Arkansas.

“It is the highest honor of my lifetime to have the trust and confidence of Third District Arkansans and I will always fight to preserve our shared values,” he said.

The Womack campaign ended the third fundraising quarter with $2.2 million cash on hand after raising nearly $170,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Draper’s announcement comes a week after retired Army Col. Marcus Jones launched his campaign to unseat Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, and represent Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District.