Feb 27, 2024 - Politics

Womack, Penzo face off for Northwest Arkansas Congressional seat

A composite photo of U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Arkansas) and state Sen. Clint Penzo (R-Springdale).

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers (left) and state Sen. Clint Penzo of Springdale are battling for the Republican nomination to represent Arkansas' 3rd Congressional District. Photos: (Womack) Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; (Penzo) Courtesy of Arkansas Senate

State Sen. Clint Penzo is challenging U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers to represent the 3rd Congressional District.

Why it matters: The winner of their Republican primary race on March 5 will face Catlin Draper Mattelin, a Fayetteville Democrat, in the Nov. 5 general election.

Context: The district covers the northwest corner of the state, including Benton, Carroll, Crawford, Madison and Washington counties, and part of Sebastian County.

Steve Womack

State of play: Womack, chair of the House Financial and General Government subcommittee, has represented the 3rd District since 2011.

  • He's the senior member of the House Appropriations committee and also sits on the subcommittees for Defense and Transportation, as well as Housing and Urban Development, and formerly chaired the House Budget committee.

Flashback: Womack was mayor of Rogers from 1999 through 2010 and retired from the Arkansas Army National Guard in 2009 at the rank of colonel with more than 30 years of service.

Zoom in: Securing the southern border is the "most pressing issue" the U.S. faces, Womack said in an email to Axios.

  • Inflation "that continues to affect every family and business in Northwest Arkansas, making daily life much more expensive" is another high priority for Womack.
  • "We need to promote a pro-growth policy agenda that includes less regulation, along with less market-distorting government spending," Womack said.

Zoom out: Womack supports continuing to send aid to both Israel and Ukraine.

  • "As a former military officer, I assess Russia's military effectiveness and combat power as extremely degraded, and that tells me the funding we have previously allocated is getting to its intended place and is effective," he said.

Clint Penzo

State of play: A real estate agent, Penzo was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 2022 and represents District 31, which includes parts of Springdale, Johnson, Tontitown and Elm Springs in Washington County.

  • According to his state Senate biography, he's currently the chair of the Rules, Resolutions and Memorials committee, co-chair of the Medical Marijuana Oversight subcommittee and vice co-chair of the Occupational Licensing Review subcommittee.

Flashback: Penzo served in the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2017 through 2022 when he co-chaired the Joint Energy committee.

  • He was a member of the Tontitown City Council for two years.

Zoom in: Penzo did not respond to multiple Axios requests to discuss the race.

  • He lists the national debt, anti-abortion, pro-Second Amendment and illegal immigration as priorities on his campaign website.

The bottom line: Early voting is underway at the Washington County clerk's office and at 15 Benton County locations.

Go deeper: What's on your March primary ballot in Northwest Arkansas?

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