Arkansas Democrat-Gazette political columnist meets with Gwen


JOHN BRUMMETT: The seeds are planted

By John Brummett 

Good writing can cut to the quick, and she is a good writer, which I knew already from her days as a newspaper colleague.

Her email of Tuesday evening began: "Please, please, for the sake of the women who still read (albeit reluctantly) the opining of white, male newspaper columnists, don't fawn over a white, privileged, Harvard-educated man who, let's remember, does happen to have two competitors in the race for the seat in the 2nd Congressional District."

Before she was done, she had said "women are on the move" and "you come across as yet another aging, condescending white guy who just can't reconcile himself to the fact that things have changed," and "your voice does not resonate with Arkansas voters," and "my respect for you has been diminished."

I don't need to identify her. I only need to share her views and consider them.

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Gwen's response to Clarke Tucker's announcement that he is entering the race for French Hill's seat

LITTLE ROCK - Democratic congressional candidate Gwen Combs says that she welcomes Clarke Tucker to the race for U.S. Representative French Hill’s seat.

But, she added: “I’m in it to win it.”

Combs, a Little Rock public school teacher and U.S. Air Force veteran, contends that she has both the supporters and the momentum needed to unseat Hill, a retired and wealthy banker who alleges to represent constituents living in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District - even though his recent votes on healthcare and tax “reform” would suggest otherwise.

Tucker’s background is too similar to that of Hill’s, Combs said.

“Voters are looking at the 2018 midterms as an opportunity to elect candidates who understand what it’s like to be an Arkansan who doesn’t come from money or privilege,” she said. “I am a candidate of the people, for the people.”

Combs said that her role as a public school teacher has helped her become intimately familiar with the needs of Arkansas students and their families, whether they live in the rural, suburban or inner-city areas of the 2nd Congressional District. She also understands what it means to be a veteran in search of support and healthcare after service to the country.

Combs contends that the number of first-time candidates who are women clearly reflects a collective desire for dramatic change in the makeup of state and federal leadership.

“The root cause of our struggle is the power differential between men and women in local, state and federal government,” Combs explained. “If we hope to level the playing field, we need to have more representation of women and other marginalized populations in positions where we can truly make a difference.”

She also understands the significance of what it means to be a woman seeking to enter the political arena, which has long been dominated by men.

“After years of grappling with - at best, inequities in pay and promotions - and, at worst, sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, women decided that 2017 would be the year to break their silence and move forward as a united sisterhood. And we believe that 2018 will be the year that our voices are finally heard.”

Combs was the lead organizer of the 2017 Women's March for Arkansas, which drew more than 7,000 people, the largest crowd at such an event in state history. On January 20, she organized and led March On, Arkansas, which featured speeches from progressive women running for local, state and U.S. offices. The march ended at the steps of the state Capitol, where attendees remained for the 8th Annual Rally for Reproductive Justice.

Beyond the march, Combs wants to establish a cooperative sisterhood of Arkansas's female Democratic candidates who recognize that they are stronger together and that winning elections requires a more concerted effort for women. She hopes members will agree to support and boost the signal of fellow women candidates to increase their collective chances of winning.

Gwen Combs is a public school teacher in Little Rock, a U.S. Air Force veteran, wife and mother. Learn more about her background and position statements at her new website:

Media contact:


IN THE NEWS: Gwen talks politics, Me Too Movement with The Current radio show

Gwen was interviewed on January 26 by The Current, a radio program that is part of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's lineup. She thecurrent-header.jpgspoke about the Me Too Movement, the number of first-time female political candidates, and several other subjects as well - including how U.S. Representative French Hill is failing the 2nd Congressional District of Arkansas.

Her interview begins at 31:50.

Click here to listen!


IN THE NEWS: KATV reports on march and Me Too panel hosted by Gwen

KATV reported not only on March On Arkansas, but also the Me Too panel that Gwen hosted later that afternoon. The Me Too panel was composed of five panelists. Therapist Maureen Skinner, who is a licensed psychological examiner, served as the panel's facilitator. (Maureen is challenging Senator Jason Rapert for his seat in the Arkansas legislature.) To watch the video, click here. The Me Too panel and interviews begin at 2:43. 

IN THE NEWS: Toronto Star features Gwen in story about progressive women running for office

Below is an excerpt from the Toronto Star's story. Click here to read the story in full. 

The final bell rings at 2:35 at Little Rock’s Stephens Elementary, which means Gwen Combs, who teaches the gifted kids, can be out running for Congress by 5.

Combs didn’t even spend a lot of time talking about politics before 2016, much less thinking about being a politician. But she hadn’t organized a political event, either, before her outrage over Donald Trump’s victory led her to lead the Women’s March for Arkansas on the day after the president’s inauguration.

After that, she started one of the progressive activist groups that proliferated across the country in the wake of the wildly successful day of marches. Then she went to Washington and lobbied her senators. And then, seven months removed from a life devoid of political ambition, she filed papers to challenge the Republican incumbent in the 2nd District.

“It may be bold to step forward to an office with such significance right from the start,” Combs, 43, said this week, “but bold is what we need right now.”

When it comes to seeking office, Democratic women have never been bolder.

Tens of thousands of them marched again on Saturday, marking the one-year anniversary of the inauguration with another vivid national display of the liberal energy that has Republicans deeply concerned about the 2018 mid-terms. This time, there is no question about whether their fire will be fleeting.

IN THE NEWS: KARK reports on March On Arkansas

Here's the report from KARK, Channel 4, on the March On Arkansas event. Click here to see the video clip. 


"It's a mobilization of women", said Furonda Brasfield, who marched in the rally. "We are coming together to demand our rights to demand that we be treated fairly."

A number of female candidates helped organize the march, including Gwen Combs; she's challenging Congressman French Hill for his seat in Arkansas' 2nd District. 



IN THE NEWS: THV reports on March On Arkansas




Here's one report from THV on Channel. To see the news clip, click here

Excerpt featuring march organizer and congressional candidate Gwen Combs: 

“We've rallied and marched for so many different causes and this is just to put all of it together in a consolidated effort,” Gwen Combs said, one of the event organizers. 

What started as a sister march to the Women's March on Washington last year is now a continued effort to eliminate what organizers call systemic oppression coming from the top. 

“In Arkansas, we comprise only 20 percent of the state legislature and we're supposed to celebrate that,” said State Representative Vivian Flowers. 

“And we're 51 percent of the population,” added Combs. 

IN THE NEWS: Gwen featured in story about women seeking office after 2017 march

Gwen Combs, an elementary school teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas, is one of the women hoping to bring a Democratic wave that topples Republicans from their majority in Congress.

Combs spent much of the presidential election biting her tongue. Barred from discussing politics in the classroom, the teacher couldn’t answer her students’ questions about what a Trump presidency might mean for an immigrant parent or a minority classmate.

After the election, she was demoralized and couldn’t stop thinking about her students. “It moved me. It moved me to want to make a safer world for these kids,” she said.

Like hundreds of thousands of other women, Combs stumbled on a Facebook group for a massive march on Washington. She couldn’t afford a flight on short notice, so decided to organize one in Little Rock.

After its success, she heard from the parent of a former student. “Marches are great,” the woman told her, “but they’re just one-time events. What we really need is a movement not just a moment.”

Combs agreed. She is now running for Arkansas’s second congressional district.

To read the story in full, click here

IN THE NEWS: Straight Talk Arkansas features Gwen in podcast

From Straight Talk Arkansas' Scott Wyant - 

Gwen Combs is a mother, a veteran, a teacher, and a candidate for the Democratic primary for the second congressional district of Arkansas, who I got to speak with over Skype for the attached Podcast.

One of the things that I really liked about Gwen is her reluctance to take a stand on issues that she hasn't researched and spoken with experts in the subject on.  This is a fine trait for any congress critter to have.

To listen to the podcast, click here!

IN THE NEWS: Arkansans of the Year: Women!

The Arkansas Times declares that the Arkansans of the Year are ... women!

Excerpt: "As the Times goes to press, 15 women who have never sought political office have announced bids. Two more have run before and are trying again: Melissa Fults, who this year is seeking the state Senate District 33 seat, and Susan Inman, the retired former Pulaski County Election Commissioner, who is running for Secretary of State (she calls herself the "matriarch" of women candidates.) Most, however, are political newcomers, including GwendolynnCombs, the organizer of last year's women's march. Combs is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District congressional seat held by Republican Rep. French Hill."

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