Stephen Allen (Steve) Womack (1957–)
Steve Womack is a Republican who began serving in local and national office in the late 1990s. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 as part of a wave of new conservatives who made up the Tea Party movement, the emergence of which helped the Republicans regain the majority in the House. Upon arriving on Capitol Hill, Womack began compiling a conservative record characterized by his strong support of the party’s programs, especially its support for President Donald Trump.
Stephen Allen Womack was born on February 18, 1957, in Russellville (Pope County) to James Kermit Womack and Elisabeth Canerday Womack. He graduated from Russellville High School in 1975 and received a BA in communications from Arkansas Tech University in 1979. He was a member of Arkansas Army National Guard from 1979 until 2009, when he retired with the rank of colonel.
In 1979, Womack’s father founded radio station KURM-AM, and Womack was station manager until 1990. He then served as executive officer of the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) until 1996, at which point he joined Merrill Lynch as a financial consultant.
In 1982, he was elected to the city council of Rogers (Benton County), serving a one-year term. In 1996, he was elected to another one-year term on the council. In 1998, he was elected mayor, a post he held until 2010. As mayor of Rogers, in addition to working for economic growth, Womack made political capital out of the issue of immigration reform. He was vocal in his concerns about the increase in immigration into northwestern Arkansas, citing the policies of both the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as the cause. However, it did not reflect well on Womack when it came to light that efforts to address the issue included the profiling of Hispanics by the Rogers Police Department. In the end, it did not appear to hurt him, as he used the immigration issue to help in his initial House campaign.
He decided to seek the Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which was being vacated by incumbent John Boozman, who was instead running for the U.S. Senate. After winning the Republican nomination with thirty-one percent of the vote in a crowded primary, Womack easily won the general election, garnering just over seventy-two percent of the vote. Over the next decade, he proved himself a strong candidate, never getting less than sixty-four percent in the general election and three times exceeding seventy-five percent.
Over the course of his House career, Womack established himself as a solid conservative. As a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and other committees, he has had a say in numerous consequential pieces of legislation—and some that were less so. Despite his longtime efforts to reduce excess governmental spending, his effort to include an amendment to defund President Barack Obama’s teleprompter seemed over the top for many. As a candidate in 2010, he signed a pledge sponsored by an antitax group promising to oppose any global warming legislation that would raise taxes. Meanwhile, in 2013, Womack sponsored the Marketplace Fairness Act, a proposal that allowed states to charge and collect sales taxes on internet purchases. In 2014, he was a part of the House Appropriations Committee when it added an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have prevented the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff from working to complete regulations related to the meat industry.
To the surprise of many, on May 19, 2021, Womack was one of thirty-five Republicans who joined all 217 Democrats present in voting to approve legislation to establish a commission to investigate the January 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump. Despite this, he won the 2022 Republican Party primary election and defeated his Democratic opponent, Lauren Mallett-Hays, in the general election with more than 63 percent of the vote.
Womack has long served on the boards or as a director for Northwest Arkansas Regional Mobility Authority, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation in Rogers, and the Rogers-Lowell United Fund. Too, he has been actively involved in both the Rogers Parks and Recreation Commission and the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce. In 2019, he became the chair of the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.
He was named Guardian of Small Business by the National Federation of Independent Business in both 2018 and 2020. He was also the recipient of the International Foodservice Distributors Association’s Thomas Jefferson Award in April 2018 and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award in 2017. Womack was also given the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service by the U.S. Department of the Army in 2017, as well as the National Guard Association of the United States’ Harry S. Truman Award in 2015. Closer to home, Womack was named a Distinguished Alumnus and inducted into the Hall of Distinction at his alma mater, Arkansas Tech University, in 2014.
Womack and his wife, Terri Womack, have three sons and continue to live in Rogers.
For additional information:
“Biography—Congressman Steve Womack.” U.S. House of Representatives. https://womack.house.gov/biography/ (accessed April 14, 2022).
“Rep. Steve Womack.” Govtrack.us. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/steve_womack/412402 (accessed April 14, 2022).
“Representative Steve Womack.” Congress.gov. https://www.congress.gov/member/steve-womack/W000809 (accessed April 14, 2022).
Rosen, Marjorie. Boom Town: How Wal-Mart Transformed an All-American Town into an International Community. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2009.
“Steve Womack.” Ballotpedia. https://ballotpedia.org/Steve_Womack (accessed April 14, 2022).
“Womack Reportedly Mulls Exit.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 30, 2023, pp. 1A, 10A. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2023/jul/30/womack-reportedly-mulls-exit/ (accessed July 31, 2023).
William H. Pruden III
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