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Boozman departure for Senate run draws Gravette man to race

House try is political debut for Wallace by Bill Bowden | February 9, 2010 at 3:47 a.m.

A Gravette businessman is making his first foray into politics by joining the race for Congress to represent Arkansas’ 3rd District.

Damon Wallace, 40, a Republican, said he made the decision Saturday after hearing that U.S. Rep. John Boozman, R-Ark., will run for U.S. Senate instead of seeking reelection to the House.

Wallace owns Mount Pleasant Sales and Service, an auto repair shop near Hiwasse. He also owns rentalproperties and works three days a week as a respiratory therapist for Mercy Medical Center in Rogers.

He is a former paramedic who has worked both in Arkansas and Oklahoma, where he said he was one of the first responders to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

Wallace earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from LaSalle University in Mandeville, La., in 1998. The college,however, has since closed.

He grew up in Sulphur, La., and Harrison and has lived in Gravette for three years.

He was appointed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee to the Arkansas Dietetics Licensing Board in 2004 and served a four-year term.

Wallace said he decided on the congressional race because he is interested in national issues.

“I realize I’m an underdog,” he said. “It’s really more about getting out there and meeting the people and finding out what their desires are. But you also have to have original ideas, especially in this time that we’re in, to stimulate the economy and produce jobs. ... The main thing is we need to reduce regulations on businesses in order to let them thrive.”

Other possible candidates for the seat are lining up.

Ro ge rs M ayo r Steve Womack postponed his planned Monday announcement as a candidate in the congressional race until sometime later this week because of the predicted snowstorm.

Former 3rd District Congressman Asa Hutchinson said Monday that he will not run for the seat again.

“Five years ago, I left Washington to return to Arkansas to run my businesses and law practice,” Hutchinson said in a prepared statement. “I have had no desire to return even though the current problems facing our nation caused me to evaluate whether I should return to public life. I am delighted that there are good people that are willing to run for this seat in Congress, and I concluded that I am not indispensable to the survival of our republic.”

Hutchinson, who served as director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is senior partner with the AH Law Group in Rogers and has a consulting business in Little Rock.

Three candidates had announced plans to run for the 3rd District seat before Boozman shifted to the Senate race. They are Republican Bernie Skoch of Elkins, a retired Air Force brigadier general; Democrat David Whitaker, a former assistant city attorney in Fayetteville; and independent Jerry Coon of Rogers, who works in the Bentonville home office of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Northwest Arkansas, Pages 7 on 02/09/2010

Print Headline: Boozman departure for Senate run draws Gravette man to race

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