Pastor Plans GOP Primary Challenge To U.S. Rep. Womack

May 17, 2017

Rob Byerse

A Fayetteville pastor says he plans to challenge incumbent U.S. Rep Steve Womack, R-Rogers in Arkansas’s 3rd Congressional District.

Robb Ryerse, founder and co-pastor of Vintage Fellowship Church in Fayetteville, has declared his candidacy for the Congressional seat with the backing of the progressive group Brand New Congress.

“In these turbulent times, it pains me to see neighbor turn against neighbor,” Ryerse wrote on the website. “These are not mere disagreements over policy, we’ve begun to question the worth of our fellow man. Our nation is hurting right now; we desperately need to bridge our divide. I’ve served our Arkansas community for more than 12 years as a pastor, and now I’m answering the call to serve our district and our country by running for Congress to represent Arkansas’s 3rd. It’s time to heal, and I pray I can be of service.”

Ryerse wasn’t immediately available for comment. (Talk Business & Politics will update this story when/if a response is received.)

Womack, previously the Rogers mayor for 12 years, was first elected to Congress in 2010. In 2016, he won a fourth term with 77% of the vote in the November election against Libertarian candidate Steve Isaacson.

Ryerse is the first Republican to announce his candidacy in the 3rd district. Nonprofit executive Joshua Mahony, a Fayetteville Democrat, has also launched a campaign to challenge for Womack’s seat.

BRAND NEW CONGRESS

Womack’s campaign office issued this statement on the early challengers: “The beauty of the electoral process in this country is that anyone can get involved. While many are starting to focus on campaigns and elections, that is far from being at the forefront of the congressman’s conversations. Congressman Womack is focused on his work representing the people of the Third District in Washington, DC and back home in Arkansas.”

While being more in line with the Republican Party, the Brand New Congress has several platform positions that lean progressive or libertarian. For example, the group calls for universal healthcare coverage through Medicare, and blasts the “monopolies” of the insurance industry.

The party also says rising incarceration rates “are skewed in favor of targeting minorities” and reform is needed in this area. Such reform includes ending police militarization and improving oversight of police actions.

The group’s website summarizes its platform by saying they want to “reinvest in American industry, repair our crumbling infrastructure, rekindle our struggling schools, build an all-renewable energy system, eliminate burdensome regulations, rebuild our broken healthcare system, reform our unjust criminal justice system and restore the promise of democracy.”