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story.lead_photo.caption STAFF PHOTO BEN GOFF @NWABenGoff -- 10/01/14 Michael Kalagias poses for a headshot on Wednesday October 1, 2014.

ROGERS -- Michael Kalagias of Rogers will run as a Libertarian for the state's 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Steve Womack, a Republican.

"He has a Republican primary opponent further to the left than he is and a Democratic running against him in the general election," Kalagias said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "There needed to be a conservative somewhere on the ballot."

So far, Womack faces political newcomer Robb Ryerse of Springdale in the May 22 GOP primary. The winner of that primary will face a Democrat in the Nov. 6 election. Joshua Mahony of Fayetteville has announced his Democratic bid.

Filing for the primaries begins Feb. 22 and ends March 1.

The 3rd District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country, with the GOP nominee winning every election there since 1968. Mahony is Womack's first Democratic opponent since 2010 when he was elected to Congress. Ryerse is Womack's first GOP opponent since that same year.

Kalagias, 49, is a retired schoolteacher currently working as a security officer at Bentonville Public Schools. He has run unsuccessfully for the state House.

He sits on the board of directors for Benton County Water District No. 1 and is a volunteer firefighter with the Avoca Fire Department. Kalagias is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy who was deployed twice to the Persian Gulf.

Kalagias criticized Womack in his announcement, saying the congressman repeatedly votes to increase the national debt, does not hold the line on government spending and advocates taxes on sales through the Internet.

Womack has said Congress has the responsibility to pay the troops and keep essential functions running. He has also said he opposes growth in both the debt and the government. He has said the ease with which people avoid tax on Internet purchases is unfair to traditional retailers.

Kalagias has no announced opposition for the nomination ahead of the Libertarian Party's convention, set for Feb. 24 and 25 in Little Rock.

Metro on 01/03/2018

Print Headline: Libertarian announces bid for 3rd District seat

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