Oct 18, 2022 - Politics

Unpacking Arkansas' 3rd Congressional District debate

Michael Kalagias, Rep. Steve Womack and Lauren Mallett-Hays. Photo: Courtesy of Arkansas PBS

Arkansas PBS' week of debates kicked off Monday, putting NWA in the spotlight.

What happened: Libertarian candidate,Michael Kalagias and Democratic candidate Lauren Mallett-Hays squared off with each other and Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Womack.

Why it matters: The winner of this race will represent Arkansans who live in the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Brenton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison and Washington counties and the northern part of Sebastian County.

Details: The candidates were asked their positions on topics ranging from NWA's infrastructure needs to the war in Ukraine, Social Security and climate change. Their answers fell mostly along party lines.

The time allotted didn't give candidates much room to elaborate, so details were sparse, but a few common topics emerged:

1. Kalagis wants to cut taxes and put money in citizens' pockets. Mallett-Hays advocated for the introduction of a bill to eliminate taxes on overtime pay, commission-based pay and Social Security.

  • Because much of the economy depends on energy, Womack advocated for more domestic production of oil and gas to help combat U.S. and global inflation.

2. Womack said he supports a nationwide ban on abortion with certain exceptions, but didn't specify further. Mallet-Hays opposes a national ban and believes the decision belongs to a woman and her doctor. Kalagias says abortion is a rights argument and that human rights should be extended at the moment of conception.

3. Both Womack and Mallett-Hays back the U.S. approach to supporting Ukraine with aid in money and weapons to keep a check on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  • Kalagias said the U.S. can't be the world's police and believes we should focus resources on needs at home while encouraging individuals to send any aid they can afford.

The bottom line: Both Mallett-Hays and Kalagis accused Womack of not taking action during his time in office. Womack defended his record in the press conference following the debate, noting that many bills passed at the federal level have benefited Arkansas during his 12 years in office.

  • All agreed that Arkansas should allow some form of online voter registration.

What's next: Arkansas PBS continues debates Tuesday.

Frank Gilbert (L), Kelly Krout (D) and Leslie Rutledge (R ) will debate for the lieutenant governor seat at 10am, and Anna Beth Gorman (D) and John Thurston (R) will debate at 1pm for the secretary of state position.

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