Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt (D) will likely run for Rep. Tom CottonTom CottonSenators introduce new Iran sanctions Trump should ignore the business lobby and stick to immigration promises McConnell vows Senate will take up ObamaCare repeal next week MORE'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.
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 GriffinTim GriffinFlynn discloses lobbying that may have helped Turkey Tea Party class reassesses record Huckabee's daughter to run '16 campaign MORE'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.