LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (May 22, 2014) – There is much we can learn from Tuesday’s primary election results, but the key takeaway was the low voter turnout. Only 20% of the 1.6 million registered voters in Arkansas cast a ballot in this year’s primary election. In addition, for the first time in our state’s history, more Republican ballots were cast than Democratic ballots. Of the 330,000 plus who voted, only 175,000 will have the opportunity to vote in the primary run-off on June 10th for the state’s next Attorney General.
Over 400 candidates filed in early March to become an elected official in Arkansas; a number that was drastically trimmed late Tuesday night. There were 22 primaries for state House seats, where eight races were decided at the polls and one is set for a runoff. Three of five incumbent Arkansas state representatives who faced primary election opponents lost their seats. Incumbent Representatives John Hutchison, R-Harrisburg; Randy Alexander, R-Springdale; and Fred Smith, G-Crawfordsville, all lost Tuesday night, while Representatives Sue Scott, R-Rogers, and Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville, were able to pull out a victory. The private option vote appeared to be a factor in two of those races.
There were four state Senate races contested in the Republican primary. In three of those races, the winner was decided since no Democrat filed to run against them in the general election. Representative Terry Rice defeated incumbent Senator Bruce Holland for Senate District 9. While Representative John Burris, one of the private option architects, is headed to a runoff with Mountain Home businessman Scott Flippo, incumbent Senators Missy Irvin and Bill Sample easily won their respective primaries.
Looking ahead to November, in the Arkansas Senate, there are 18 seats on the ballot this year; 11 of which are held by Republicans and seven by Democrats. 11 of the Senate incumbents are unopposed – six Republicans and five Democrats. In the Arkansas House of Representatives, all 100 House seats are up for election. There are 51 unopposed House candidates – 27 Republicans and 24 Democrats. The other 49 contested House seats include 25 held by Republicans, 23 held by Democrats and one by a Green Party member – who was defeated Tuesday’s primary.
An overview of the big winners shows:
Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross won their parties’ nominations for governor;
Little Rock Banker French Hill won the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District;
State Representative Bruce Westerman defeated Tommy Moll in the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District;
Congressman Tim Griffin defeated two Republican opponents in the primary race for the next lieutenant governor;
Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan defeated Representative Duncan Baird for state treasurer in the Republican primary;
State Representative Andrea Lea more than doubled her opponent’s vote totals in the Republican primary for state auditor;
and Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne narrowly defeated Little Rock lawyer Tim Cullen in the Supreme Court race.
Summing up, the general election in November will include four congressional seats, the governor’s office, six constitutional offices, 100 state House seats and 18 state Senate seats. The next five months should be very intriguing, as one of the most anticipated election years in our state’s history has taken shape.