Darr drops out of congressional race


LITTLE ROCK — Lt. Gov. Mark Darr announced Thursday he will not seek the 4th District congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, who is running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Darr cited family considerations, but the announcement came less than a week after he announced he had filed an ethics complaint against himself for filing a false campaign expenditure report.

In a news release, Darr said he planned to continue serving as lieutenant governor, but didn’t indicate whether would seek re-election. Two Republicans have already announced for that seat, as has one Democrat.

“I feel that my priority needs to be focused on my family and sometimes trying to achieve titles gets in the way of that,” Darr said in a statement.

“I have made many friends across this state.. . young and old. .. Democrats and Republicans and for their unwavering support I am humbled,” he said.

Two other Republicans have announced for the 4th District seat — Hot Springs businessman Tommy Moll and state Rep. Bruce Westerman, also of Hot Springs.

The lone Democrat to announce for the seat is Janis Percefull, a Hot Springs teacher and author.

Cotton, who has held the 4th District seat for just eight months, has announced for the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, who is seeking re-election to a third term.

Darr is facing questions over reporting of hundreds of dollars of expenditures at restaurants and gas stations not long after he took office. After filing the complaint against himself, he said he planned to correct his campaign finance reports to reclassify those expenses as debt reduction payments.

Darr declined a request for comment Thursday, but in an interview with Arkansas News Bureau columnist Roby Brock he said he had not decided if he would seek re-election for lieutenant governor.

“I think what I need to do is get this cleared up at the Ethics Commission first before I even worry about that,” he said.

Darr admitted there were some errors in his campaign finance report.

“No one wants to make a mistake in filing out reports, obviously,” he said. “I’m not throwing other people under the bus. I signed the reports, so it’s my campaign, my responsibility. But there were some errors on there.”

He also said he expects he may owe his campaign money because he took more than the debt he was owed.

“I think I will. It’s not a whole lot of money but it’s still an error in calculation and reporting,” he said, adding he was not ready to disclose the total payment because he wanted to review his amended filing first.

He did say that the amount was “not exorbitant.”

Darr also said he wasn’t ready to endorse any of the candidates for the 4th District congressional seat.

Westerman, in a statement issued Thursday, thanked Darr and his family “for their continued service to the people of Arkansas.”

“I salute him for being an important part of the historic 2010 election that started our state down a path of common-sense conservative government — a path we must continue to move forward upon in order to create a brighter future for our state,” Westerman said.