Arkansas 2nd District
Little Rock has been the capital of Arkansas and also its largest city for more than a century. It is at the geographic center of an otherwise rural state, and it is home to the presidential library of Bill Clinton, the former Arkansas governor. The city is best known for its role at the dawn of the civil rights movement. In September 1957, Democratic Gov. Orval Faubus sent in the National Guard to block a desegregation order at Central High School. President Eisenhower sent in U.S. troops and federalized the National Guard to enforce the order, and Little Rock became a synonym for bigotry around the world. Forty years later, the Little Rock Nine who had integrated the high school returned for an anniversary commemoration with then President Clinton. “It was Little Rock that made racial equality a driving obsession in my life,” he said. Today, Little Rock is still the political center of Arkansas, setting the tone of the public life of its state as do only a few other state capitals—Boston, Providence, Atlanta, Denver, and Honolulu. It is home to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the feisty, conservative paper whose editor Paul Greenberg christened Clinton “Slick Willie.” On the banks of the Arkansas River is the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, opened in 2004 and designed to promote local economic revitalization and with architecture evocative of a “bridge to the 21st century.”
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 2nd Congressional District of Arkansas includes Little Rock and North Little Rock, a kind of industrial suburb across the Arkansas River and known informally for years as Dog Town. The district takes in Saline (named for its early salt works) and Faulkner (named for fiddle player Sanford C. Faulkner, the original Arkansas Traveler) counties, which have grown rapidly as people move farther out on the freeways. This is the seat once held by legendary Ways and Means chairman Wilbur Mills, who retired in 1976. In 2004, the district favored President Bush 51%-48%—the same as in the national popular vote. In 2008, John McCain defeated Barack Obama, 54%-44%.