Just as we predicted here at Cook’s Outlook, there are some surprises during this filing for office season, both with candidates dropping out of and potentiality dropping into races. Today, there were big shuffles in the First and Second Congressional District races.
In the Second Congressional District, Arkansas Democrats believed that former State Rep. Jay Martin would file to challenge Republican incumbent Tim Griffin. Democratic Party Chairman Will Bond said last week that he expected Martin to file, but today Jay Martin announced he would not run, setting off a scramble for Democrats to find a candidate.
Speculation on the possibility of DPA Chair Bond making the Congressional race himself grew dramatically when the State Party just happened to send out a recent photo of Bond today to their media list. I don’t think that was an accident or coincidence and it would not surprise me to see Will Bond make this race.
Little Rock attorney and former State Rep. Herb Rule told me this afternoon he plans to run for the Democratic nomination in the Second Congressional District. When I spoke with Rule, he was literally filling out paperwork to run and didn’t have time to visit at length. I hope to have a longer conversation with him soon.
Over in the First Congressional District, there was also a big shake-up in the make-up of Democratic candidates seeking the right to challenge Republican incumbent Rick Crawford. The Arkansas Times Blog today has word that Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington plans to file Thursday and will face State Rep Clark Hall and ASU Professor Gary Latanich in the Democratic primary.
Ellington’s potential candidacy throws a monkey wrench into the Democratic establishment’s early support of Clark Hall. Many Democratic elected officials had thrown their support behind Hall and had helped him raise money. Scott Ellington is from Northeast Arkansas, which is where the votes are in a primary, while Hall hails from Phillips County and Southeast Arkansas, which has less votes. Geography will come into play in this primary.
Ellington likely has significant name recognition in the Jonesboro media market due to his job as Prosecutor and his involvement in the West Memphis 3 case. It’s too early to tell if Ellington’s role in the WM3 case helps or hurts him, or if it’s non-factor in the race for the Democratic nomination.
Before Ellington’s announcement, Hall was the odds-on favorite to be the Democratic nominee, but if Ellington makes the race, that Democratic primary is a toss-up.
However, Ellington still has not yet filed and there is still a strong possibility he might not actually make the race. Ellington has until noon tomorrow to file for Congress.
Let’s not forget that Hot Springs attorney Q. Bryum Hurst filed for the 4th Congressional District and faces State Senator Gene Jeffress in the Democratic primary. Hurst had previously announced this month that he had planned to run against Democratic State Senator Mike Fletcher in the primary, but Hurst obviously changed his mind and decided to compete for the bigger office.
This time last week it seemed the Democratic primaries in the First,
Second and Fourth Congressional Districts would be staid, possibly non-existent affairs. Now it appears, Arkansas Democrats may have some choices in their Congressional primaries.
Today’s events are a helpful reminder that during the filing season there are always surprises.
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