Arkansas Felon Launches Bid To Be Democratic Senate Nominee

Jack Foster / YouTube screenshot
April 19, 2021

The latest Democrat running to challenge Sen. John Boozman (R., Ark.) is a felon who hopes voters will look past his extortion conviction.

Jack Foster, a former alderman for Pine Bluff, Ark., spent three years in federal prison for taking $32,500 in exchange for votes on zoning issues in the state. Now, just a decade after his 2009 release, Foster says Democratic voters should nominate him to run for Senate because he knows "how to get things done."

"I know politics and what it takes to help people," Foster said in his campaign announcement. "And that’s what it’s all about. We need people in Washington who want to help Arkansans."

Nominating the convicted felon would be a step in the right direction for the Arkansas Democratic Party, which failed to even get a nominee on the ballot last cycle, when the sole candidate challenging Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) abruptly ended his campaign just after the filing deadline. Foster joins a weak Democratic field that represents the party’s slip in a state that once housed the Clinton family dynasty. Dan Whitfield, a progressive activist who briefly ran as an independent against Cotton in 2020, is also running.

Democrats have rapidly fallen off the map in Arkansas, which a decade ago was a southern stronghold for the party. In 2011, Democrats held three of four House seats, both Senate seats, and the governor’s mansion. Now, Republicans control them all.

Republican state senator Trent Garner told the Washington Free Beacon Foster's entrance into the race is emblematic of the party's collapse in Arkansas.

'The Democratic Party of Arkansas has moved so far to the extreme left, they have resorted to scraping the bottom of the barrel to get candidates," Garner said.

He noted Foster is the latest in an emerging pattern of "questionable" Democratic candidates in the state, pointing to the case of Jimmie Wilson, a Democratic state legislature candidate who was disqualified from serving in office by the Arkansas Supreme Court due to prior corruption charges.

Foster has remained involved in local politics despite his conviction. In 2010, he said it was the only way he could work to make his home city of Pine Bluff a better place.

"Two things make the world go around—money and politics," Foster said in a 2010 profile. "If you ain’t got no money, you need to be in politics. And I ain’t got no money."

Boozman announced last month he was running for reelection. The former optometrist was first elected in 2010.