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Arkansas scholarship fund head says he’ll run for Congress

By ANDREW DeMILLOMay 8, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The head of a scholarship fund launched a longshot bid Monday to unseat a Republican congressman in northwest Arkansas, targeting the incumbent over his vote to repeal and replace major parts of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Joshua Mahony, 36, said he’s running as a Democrat for the 3rd District seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, who is seeking his fifth term in office. Mahony, the president of the Springdale-based Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund, ran unsuccessfully for the party’s nomination for Washington County judge last year. He announced his candidacy days after Womack and the rest of the state’s Republican U.S. House delegation voted in favor of the GOP health care bill.

Mahony said he was worried about the impact the bill would have on the more than 300,000 people currently on the state’s hybrid Medicaid expansion and on those with pre-existing medical conditions. He said he would have voted against the Republican health care bill, and would have voted for former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

“I understand that (the Affordable Care Act), or Obamacare, is not perfect but I think it’s something if we take a thoughtful positive approach we can improve on it,” Mahony said. “But stripping away Medicaid expansion from Arkansans is wrong.”

Mahony said he supports abortion rights and opposes Republican efforts to block federal funding to Planned Parenthood. He also criticized President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying he believes there are less expensive ways to monitor the border.

A spokesman for Womack declined to comment on Mahony’s candidacy. Womack, who was first elected in 2010 has nearly $1.2 million cash on hand for his re-election bid, according to his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Democrats face an uphill challenge in Arkansas, where Republicans control all statewide and federal offices as well as both chambers of the state Legislature. Trump easily won the 3rd District last year, which is considered solidly Republican territory. State Democratic Party chairman Michael John Gray, who is also a state representative, said he’s talked with other potential candidates in the 3rd District as well as for the state’s other three House seats.


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