Republican Marcus Richmond, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, said if he's elected as Arkansas' Fourth District congressman, the Pine Bluff Arsenal would have "an understanding ally in Washington."

Republican Marcus Richmond, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, said if he’s elected as Arkansas’ Fourth District congressman, the Pine Bluff Arsenal would have “an understanding ally in Washington.”

“I’ll put my military background to work in supporting the arsenal,” the 56-year-old Richmond said Thursday night at the Jefferson County Republican Committee meeting at Larry’s Pizza restaurant in White Hall.

“There’s been more personal politics than common sense in Washington in the past few years, and that’s a major problem when it comes to military decisions.”

Richmond, a Mena native who now resides in Harvey (Scott County), said it’s become typical for federal financial cutbacks to be aimed at rural locations.

“That’s too often where the first (military) base and post office closings are proposed,” said Richmond, owner of a Waldron pizza restaurant and Harvey-headquartered national pet registry that count a combined 24 employees. “It’s the rural settings that can least afford such closures. There are other ways of saving government money.

“I’ll do whatever is necessary to ensure the arsenal’s continued operations and growth.”

Although the arsenal hasn’t been officially marked for such, some fears of at least a partial base closing have persisted in the public as the installation’s chemical munitions storage and disposal operations are, for all practical purposes, complete. Some 1,200 jobs were lost with the successful effort, and the Army installation — which will begin its 71st year of production in July — is in transition as the base’s military leaders and civilian administrators seek new work missions.

Richmond also pledged that if elected, he’ll help lead a charge to secure the nation’s borders “like a military operation.”

The Arkansas Tech University graduate said the federal government should “quit being reactive and start being pro-active” on illegal immigration.

“We have the capability to protect our borders,” said Richmond. “We just lack the will.”

He termed amnesty as “wrong.”

“It’s fundamentally unfair to have a law that favors those who have broken a law over those following the law,” he reasoned.

A former football coach, Richmond believes his military background and experiences as a husband, father, grandfather and business owner combine to make him the best candidate for the congressional seat being vacated by Democrat Mike Ross, who declined to seek re-election.

Others who hope to fill Ross’ seat includes Republicans Beth Anne Rankin and Tom Cotton and Democrat state Sen. Gene Jeffress.