Democratic State Rep. Monte Hodges on Wednesday formally launched his bid for the 1st Congressional District with an eight-day tour, according to state party spokesman Jacob Kauffman.

Hodges filed paperwork earlier this week with the Federal Election Commission to run for the seat.

Hodges is the first Democrat to announce a bid for the seat, which Republican Rep. Rick Crawford has held since 2011. Crawford is being challenged in the May GOP primary by state Rep. Brandt Smith.

Hodges, a former Blytheville city councilman, has served in the Arkansas House since 2013. No Democrat ran against Crawford in 2020.

Hodges is a 1990 graduate of Blytheville High School. He received his AA degree from what was formerly Mississippi County Community College (MCCC) now Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC) and his B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics and Finance from Arkansas State University (ASU).

He is married to Rhonda (Morris) Hodges of Joiner, and they have a 13-year-old son, Jeremiah. The family attends Wellsprings Church, in Blytheville and Hodges is also an ordained minister.

He is Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending at Southern Bancorp Bank, in Blytheville.

He is currently serving his fifth term in the Arkansas House of Representative for District 55 (now 34). He has served as Assistant Speaker Pro Tempore for Caucus District 1 during his second term in office. In 2016 Hodges was one of 25 minority elected officials selected from southern states to participate in The Roundtable of the South in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. He was selected in 2019 as one of 20 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a national network of state and local elected officials.

Hodges is co-chair of JBC Peer Review and serves on the Revenue & Taxation Committee, Insurance Commerce and Joint Budget. He was also appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the Budgets and Revenue Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for the 2017-2018 biennium, and he was elected during the 93rd General Assembly as the 2021-2022 Chair of the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus (ALBC).

Hodges served nine years in the U.S. military (three years Army Reserves and six years Arkansas Army National Guard). He is an Osceola Kiwanis Club member and past president, member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Treasurer for the 4H Cooperative Extension Service. He has been a Prison Ministry Volunteer with the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections, Luxora Unit for more than 20 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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