Feb 14, 2023 - Politics

Chris Jones' new PAC aims to prop up Dems

A photo of Chris Jones, former gubernatorial candidate in Arkansas, taking a selfie.

Chris Jones takes a selfie with supporters on the campaign trail. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Former Democrat gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones has launched a political action committee ā€” Vortex PAC ā€” to recruit and support fellow Democrats for state public office.

  • The group's priority will be to flip the state's four U.S. House seats held by Republicans, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
  • Jones told Axios in September that he believes more dialogue is needed between parties in state government.

The big picture: Arkansas, historically a blue state, has been trending Republican for the past two decades. No Democrat has represented Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013.

Context: Jones last year lost a bid for governor to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

  • Just under 51% of registered Arkansas voters cast a ballot in the 2022 midterm, but that's more than the estimated 47% who turned out nationwide.
  • According to the annual Arkansas Poll conducted by the University of Arkansas, 37% of 557 likely voters identify as Republicans, while 24% identify as Democrats.
  • 32% claimed to be independent, but 53% of those identify more with Republicans.

What they're saying: "Gerrymandering and voter suppression have played a significant role in keeping these far-right politicians in power in our beautiful state," Jones said in a news release announcing the PAC on Monday.

  • "The only way to change that is to build the infrastructure we need to get better people elected."
  • Jones told the Democrat-Gazette he understands the challenges Democrats face in the state. Vortex plans to boost public engagement and help candidates reach potential voters.

Flashback: Former state Sen. Jim Hendren (I-Sulphur Springs), citing divisiveness on both sides of the aisle, left the Republican Party in 2021, became an independent and formed Common Ground AR, a nonprofit aimed at keeping voters informed and active.

What we're watching: Any fundraising event ā€” and the attendees ā€” the Springdale-based Vortex PAC holds in the coming weeks will be of interest.

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