Navy veteran announces run for state House District 41 seat

Navy veteran, Baptist minister seeks opportunity to serve rural District 41

Democrat Tom Nowlin announced Wednesday his bid for a north-central Arkansas state House seat.

Nowlin, a U.S. Navy veteran and ordained Baptist minister from Stone County, said he will run for the House District 41 seat, which includes most of Cleburne County and the southwestern portion of Stone County. The seat is currently held by Republican Josh Miller, a six-term incumbent from Heber Springs.

"I'm running to serve the people of my district, not outside special interests," Nowlin said in the news release. "Our district deserves a leader who fights for our rural values, who always does what's best for our citizens, and not someone who ignores our needs and concerns. I'm not seeking Democratic answers or Republican answers to our challenges; I'm seeking the right answers for my district."

According to the release from his campaign, Nowlin has worked as manager of member services at Petit Jean Electric Cooperative in Clinton for the past 19 years. Nowlin has a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership Studies from the University of Central Arkansas.

Nowlin served as a pastor for Southern Baptist churches in Kentucky and Arkansas, and spent 12 years in Japan as a missionary for the Southern Baptist Convention. While in the U.S. Navy, he served as a submarine nuclear power plant operator and instructor, according to the release.

"As state representative, I'll fight for hard-working Arkansans struggling to make ends meet, work to restore public school funding, and do all that I can to improve the infrastructure in our rural district," he said.

In 2022, Miller defeated Libertarian Edward Flanigan III, earning 84.6% of the vote in the general election. In the 2022 Republican primary, Miller won a close race over Marty Moss with 52.9% of the vote. Miller is still weighing whether he'll run for a seventh term in the Arkansas House of Representatives, he said.

"Either way, I firmly believe District 41 will continue to be represented by a Republican, whether it's Josh Miller or somebody else," Miller said.

"However, I will say that the fact a Democrat candidate has announced their candidacy for District 41 absolutely has no bearing whatsoever on my decision whether I will run or not that I'm going to make in the next few days," Miller said.

Grant Tennille, chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, has said previously that the party plans to run more state house candidates in the 2024 election, as many Republican-held seats have gone unchallenged or faced only a Libertarian candidates in recent races.

Tennille said Democrats are also aiming to end the Republican super-majority in the General Assembly, where Republicans hold 82 of 100 House seats and 29 of 35 Senate districts.