|Updated: 11/02/2011 9:13 pm
||Published: 11/02/2011 3:59 pm
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An economics professor said Wednesday he's seeking the Democratic nomination for the 1st Congressional District and becomes the second candidate to announce a bid to challenge freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford in east Arkansas.
Gary Latanich, who teaches at Arkansas State University and who has never run for office before, said he is seeking the party's nomination for Crawford's seat.
Latanich criticized Crawford's economic policies as "damaging" to the country and singled out Crawford's opposition to the health care law and his support of a balanced budget amendment.
"The 1st district is held by someone whose economic philosophy is so incredibly different from what I think as an economist we should be doing," Latanich told The Associated Press. "The philosophy he proposes and the ideas I think are so potentially damaging to the nation that you can either sit on the sideline and watch the United States sink into stagnation like Greece or actually try to convince the public that, `hey, what they want to do is wrong."'
State Rep. Clark Hall announced last month that he would seek the Democratic nomination for the 1st District seat. Hall announced after several top Democrats in the state, including Senate President Paul Bookout and Senate Majority Leader Robert Thompson, said they would not run for the seat.
Crawford last month announced that he raised more than $110,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 and had more than $205,000 in the bank for his re-election bid.
Latanich said that running for the district would be a "steep learning curve," but said he believed he had time to put together a campaign team and raise money for his bid.
Crawford didn't respond directly to Latanich's comments in a statement released by his campaign.
"Competition and choice are good in primary and general elections," Crawford said. "My focus will continue to be creating an environment for businesses to grow, employers to hire and our economy to thrive."
Crawford was elected to Congress last year when he defeated Democratic nominee Chad Causey, who had served as chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. Marion Berry. Berry had announced in early 2010 that he would not seek re-election to the 1st District seat due to health reasons.
Crawford's victory was part of a string of Republican wins in Arkansas that gave the GOP a majority of the state's four congressional seats for the first time since Reconstruction.
Steve Rockwell, a Jonesboro businessman who has said he's leaning toward running for the Democratic nomination for the seat, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday. Prosecutor Scott Ellington, another potential candidate, said he's not considering running but would not completely rule out a bid for the seat.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)