Mike Ross files for governor


LITTLE ROCK — Former Democratic Congressman Mike Ross filed for governor at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

Also filing Wednesday were Republican Tommy Moll of Hot Springs for the 4th District congressional seat, as well as two candidates for state treasurer, and one each for state auditor and lieutenant governor.

Wednesday was the third day of the filing period, which runs through Monday. There are 265 federal, state, district and nonpartisan judicial positions up for election this year, including each of the state’s 100 House seats and 18 of the 35 Senate seats. The primary election is May 20 and the general election is Nov. 4.

Ross, who so far is the only Democrat to file for the seat now held by Democrat Mike Beebe, who is term limited, filed before noon Wednesday. No other Democrats have announced an intention to file.

Republicans Asa Hutchinson, a former congressman and undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland security, and Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman have already filed for the office.

“I am a conservative Democrat,” Ross told reporters after he filed. “But let me be clear, I am not running for governor for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, I am running for governor, to be governor, for all the people of Arkansas. I will work with everyone who will work with me to make this state a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Ross served in the U.S. House for seven terms and did not seek re-election in 2012.

In response to a question, Ross said he supports renewing funding for the private option and hopes the Legislature will do so.

Earlier this week, Hutchinson said he had “intentionally stayed out” of the private option debate going on in the Legislature because he doesn’t have a vote on the issue and because “you only have one governor at a time.”

Moll said, “Our country is on the wrong track under President Obama and I want to go to Washington and represent the 4th District and help get us back on the right track.”

Moll touted his background in business and economics while talking with reporters after he filed Wednesday afternoon. He worked at the Jefferies investment banking firm, concentrating on the energy sector, and previously worked at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, has already filed for the 4th District, as has Democrat James Lee Witt, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and director of the state Department of Emergency Management.

Janis Percefull of Hot Springs, an historian and part-time history teacher at National Park Community College in Hot Springs, filed earlier this week for the seat as an independent.

In the state treasurer’s race, Rep. Duncan Baird, R-Lowell, and Democrat Karen Sealy Garcia, city director of Hot Springs, filed Wednesday. Republican Dennis Milligan, the Saline County circuit clerk, filed for the constitutional office earlier this week.

Both Baird and Garcia said they have the business background needed to serve as state treasurer and they would focus on restoring trust to the office.

Former Treasurer Martha Shoffner resigned in May following her arrest on public corruption charges. She faces bribery and extortion counts in a federal indictment that accuses her of directing bond business to a broker in exchange for $36,000 in kickbacks.

A trial on those charges is scheduled for March 3.

Earlier this month, she was charged with 10 counts of mail fraud for allegedly using $9,800 of campaign funds from her re-election campaign for state treasurer for personal use. Shoffner allegedly mailed campaign checks for payments to a personal Wells Fargo credit card from Nov. 5, 2010, through Oct. 9, 2011.

A hearing is scheduled for Thursday on the new charges.

Baird has a degree in finance and accounting from the University of Arkansas, and has worked in the brokerage division at Arvest Bank. He has served as co-chairman of the Budget Committee while in the Legislature.

“From everything I’ve heard on the campaign trail, people are looking for someone who is qualified and has the experience to run the office,” he said.

Garcia, a CPA for 30 years, said she is “ready to use my skills to make sure our state saves money where it can and makes sound investments.”

“With my business acumen, my years of experience in the private sector, and my fiscal conservatism, I know I can help make our state run more efficiently,” she said. “This office needs a professional and I have been responsible for multimillion-dollar budgets for years and I am ready to stand up and serve the people of this great state.”

Also filing Wednesday were Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, for lieutenant governor, joining an already crowded field in the Republican Primary. U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, filed for the seat earlier this week. Former Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter is the only Democrat in the race.

Also Wednesday, Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, filed for state auditor, and Rep. Fred Smith of Crawfordsville, the only Green Party member in the House, filed for re-election as a Democrat.

Smith said he appreciated the Green Party for letting him run as a candidate in 2012 but that the Democratic Party was his home.

Smith, was elected to the House in 2010 as a Democrat, but he resigned early in the 2011 session after being convicted on a felony theft charge. A judge later expunged the conviction, and Smith ran as a Green party candidate for the seat in 2012 winning with no opposition after Rep. Hudson Hallum, D-Marion, resigned after a federal voter fraud conviction.