LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Tommy Robinson, the Arkansas sheriff who once chained 14 inmates to a prison guard tower, said Tuesday he will run for the congressional seat that was held for decades by Democrat Wilbur Mills.
Robinson's five opponents in the Democratic primary will include Thedford Collins, a Little Rock stockbroker who is the first black ever to seek the post.
'The citizens of Arkansas need tough, aggressive representation in Washington,' Robinson said. 'My record of public service proves that I will aggressively stand up for what is right.'
Republican Rep. Ed Bethune is giving up the 2nd District seat to run against Democratic Sen. David Pryor.
Robinson took 14 inmates from the Pulaski County jail and chained them to a prison guard tower at Pine Bluff on a blistering summer day in 1981 to force the state Correction Department to accept them.
He said he could not hold inmates destined for the state prison and stay within the court-ordered limit on his jail population.
The following year, Robinson spent two nights in jail on a contempt of court citation, accused of violating other court orders regarding his Pulaski County jail.
Robinson was applauded by deputies and employees when he returned to work. His first words: 'Who the hell's in my parking place?'
Robinson decided just three days ago to enter the congressional race, he said.
Collins, 35, said having the flamboyant sheriff as an opponent makes him even more determined to stick to the issues, especially remedies for the federal deficit. He said he does not expect race to be an issue.
'We have come to the realization this is a country of all the people,' he said. 'Color of skin is only significant to some who want us to live where we don't want to live anymore.'
As congressman, Robinson said he would support a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget, fight cuts in Social Security and monitor waste in military spending.