GOP Leader Challenged For Not Being Conservative Enough

While facing a longshot opposition from a state legislator on the right, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack emerged victorious in the Republican primary for his seat in northwest Arkansas.

In the 3rd Congressional District, 67-year-old Womack defeated state senator Clint Penzo. Womack was the lone state representative to face a primary challenge on Tuesday. Caitlin Draper, a Democrat, will challenge the seven-term congressman in November’s election.

In his reelection campaign, Womack faced an opponent who attempted to cast him as too progressive for the northwest Arkansas area months after he denied rumors that he was contemplating retirement.

Womack, who is 67, had several advantages against state senator Clint Penzo. Womack had the backing of conservative organizations like National Right to Life and the state’s leading Republicans like Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Regarding reelection fundraising, the seven-term congressman had roughly $2 million, surpassing Penzo. Even with his November candidacy announcement, Penzo had only a small portion of that available. The November general election pits Womack against Democratic candidate Caitlin Draper.

According to Penzo, he had around $65,000 on hand.

To discredit Womack, Penzo said that he was too liberal for the district. He took issue with Womack’s decision to oppose Rep. Jim Jordan’s failed attempt to succeed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Womack cast his ballot for Steve Scalise, the House Majority Leader, who later withdrew from the race in the face of criticism from conservative Republicans. In the end, Womack supported Mike Johnson, who went on to become a speaker.

An influential figure on the House Appropriations Committee, Womack was initially elected to represent the 3rd District in 2010. He oversees the panel’s subcommittee on financial services and general government.

After telling The Washington Post last summer that he wasn’t sure whether to seek reelection and expressed his unhappiness with the turmoil in Congress, Womack refuted rumors that he wouldn’t run. Following the interview’s publication, Womack announced his intention to run for reelection.

Womack claimed that the rumors were exaggerated and that he usually waits until Labor Day to decide whether or not to run for reelection.