Clinton's FEMA director planning run for House

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt (D) will likely run for Rep. Tom Cotton's (R-Ark.) House seat, Arkansas Democrats told The Hill.

Witt, who served under President Clinton during both of his terms in office, has been traveling the district and meeting with Arkansas Democrats to line up support. He is expected to announce a bid soon.

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Cotton is running for the Senate, leaving an open seat in a district that leans heavily Republican and gave Mitt Romney 62 percent of its vote in the 2012 presidential election. 

But Witt could make the race competitive: He has close connections with the Clintons, who remain popular in the state, and has ties to the district, owning a farm that is just down the street from Cotton's.

"He's making the rounds in the state, visiting key counties, he was down at the state capitol last week talking to key legislators,” one top Arkansas Democrat said. “He's definitely getting folks together to get prepared to announce.”

"From what I'm hearing, he'll announce in the next two weeks or so, and when he does, he instantly makes the district competitive given his credibility, his likeability and his national and local contacts."

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) held the seat until his retirement in 2012. Ross is now running for governor, and his campaign might help boost Democratic turnout in the district.

Witt's likely entrance could give Democrats a shot at two House districts in Arkansas. Rep. Tim Griffin's (R-Ark.) Monday announcement that he'll retire has given Democrats a sliver of hope in that district as well.

—This post was updated at 1:55 p.m.