Arkansas Democratic Party chairman steps down

LITTLE ROCK — The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party on Wednesday announced he was stepping down after two and a half years at the helm as he considers a potential run for public office next year.

The state party announced that Will Bond would serve until Sept. 14, when the party's state committee elects a new chairman. Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, announced he's backing Vincent Insalaco as Bond's replacement.

Bond, a former state legislator and attorney who lives in Little Rock, said he'll decide over the next couple weeks whether to run for office but would not specify which race he was considering. Bond last year ruled out running for a central Arkansas congressional seat.

"In a couple weeks I think I'll know whether I want to continue to serve in some capacity and put my name on the ballot," Bond said.

Bond was elected party chairman in February 2011 and headed the party as it suffered major setbacks in the state. Republicans won control of the state Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction in the November election, and swept all four of the state's U.S. House seats.

Bond said those losses didn't factor into his decision to step down and noted that Republicans only hold 51 of the 100 seats in the House.

"Obviously it was not a perfect election cycle for us in 2012, but we did outperform most of the pundits and the polling that was out there particularly in the House," Bond said.

Beebe thanked Bond for his service and said he believed Insalaco would be a strong replacement for him.

"The progress our state has made can only continue by electing responsible leaders, and Vincent Insalaco will work to elect strong leaders who will continue an agenda focused on jobs and education," Beebe said in a statement issued by the party.

Insalaco, a North Little Rock businessman who has worked on Democratic campaigns for decades, said his priorities would be on the state's top races including defending Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, the open race for governor and the lieutenant governor's race. Insalaco said he also wanted to "do everything we can" to win back the state House.

"I think the average Arkansan is concerned about jobs and education and the roads being fixed and we have to get back to talking about those issues," Insalaco said. "We have to have candidates who can do that very thing, talking about what people care about in their districts."