- The Washington Times - Monday, February 8, 2010

Rep. John Boozman, Arkansas Republican, said Monday he will highlight his conservative values and experience as a small-business owner in his bid this year to win the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

“I’m the conservative voice [voters] want in Washington,” Mr. Boozman said on The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show.

Mr. Boozman, 59, announced his run Saturday and already leads incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat, by 23 points, according to Public Policy Polling. A Rasmussen Reports poll last week had him leading Mrs. Lincoln by 19 points.

Mr. Boozman, an optometrist, said starting an eye clinic with his brother about 25 years ago has given him an understanding about small business that the Obama administration is missing.

“I know what it’s like to run a small business,” he said. “I understand payroll. I understand health care… . That’s what President Obama sorely lacks, instead of just the academics.”

Mr. Boozman, in his fifth term, acknowledged he is riding a tide of voter dissatisfaction for the Democrats in Congress and the White House that surged when Republicans won governorships in New Jersey and Virginia. Then, Scott Brown, a Republican, took the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a Democrat.

“I think the American people were thinking President Obama would get the message,” he said, “but after seeing the budget he unveiled, I doubt he has.”

Mr. Boozman acknowledged his name recognition will help distinguish him among the growing field of Republicans and Democrats running for the seat. But he said he will have to work “very, very hard” to eventually face and defeat Mrs. Lincoln, a two-term senator.

Ten Republicans are now in the primary.

Though Mrs. Lincoln is considered a moderate, her popularity among Arkansas voters has dropped in part because of her support for the president’s health-care-reform legislation. She is considered among the most likely Democrat senators to lose in November.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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