Candidate filing for office is closed and now, after months of speculation, we know who actually decided to put their names on the ballot. The final day of filing, as it often is, had a few twists and turns.
Yesterday, it appeared that Democratic Party Chairman Will Bond was poised to make the run for the Second Congressional, but this morning, Bond told reporters he had decided against the race. This left Herb Rule, a Little Rock attorney and former State Rep. from the late 1960′s, as the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Second District and he faces incumbent Tim Griffin in November.
Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington filed to run for Congress in the First Congressional District, thus creating a competitive Democratic primary between him and State Rep. Clark Hall. ASU Professor Gary Latanich is also seeking the Democratic nomination and may garner just enough votes to force a run-off.
After filing at the State Capitol, Ellington fielded reporters’ questions on the topic of his involvement as the prosecutor in the West Memphis 3 case, and if believed, it will have an effect on the primary. Ellington said as prosecutor his involvement lead to a compromise on the WM3 case that was in the best interest of justice and the best interests of the state.
With reporters asking numerous questions about the WM3, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ellington has to deal with this issue throughout the primary. Some insiders argue that Ellington has a political problem because his actions angered both supporters and opponents of the three accused in this high-profile case, but I am not sure yet how this will all wash out. Regardless of the WM3 case, Democrats in the First Congressional District now have a competitive primary.
Former State Rep. Fred Smith, who was forced out of the House in 2011 due to a felony conviction, showed up to file 30 minutes before the deadline. My blogging colleague Jason Tolbert has a complete report on the excitement Smith’s filing caused. And in this case, excitement is not necessarily a good thing.
The main focus of Arkansas politics in 2012 is likely to be which political party will control the State Legislature in 2013. Candidate filing, or lack thereof, has on obvious impact, so let’s take a look at the candidate filing big picture.
In the State House, both Arkansas Democrats and Arkansas Republicans automatically won 26 seats due to filing, meaning in 52 House seats, only one person or members of one political party filed to run. Overall, Democrats fielded 95 candidates in 75 House seats and Republican fielded 84 candidates in 74 House seats.
In the State Senate, Arkansas Democrats automatically win 9 seats and Arkansas Republicans ended up with 8 automatic seats. Democrats fielded 32 candidates in 25 districts and Republicans fielded 31 candidates in 26 districts. Republicans failed to find candidates for two competitive open seats: Senate Districts 4 and 12. Democrats Uvalde Lindsey and Bruce Maloch will now represent those two districts respectively.
In the end, Arkansas Democrats fielded a total of 133 candidates for federal and state offices and Arkansas Republicans fielded a total of 124.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at some of the more competitive House and Senate races in the battle for control of the Arkansas State Legislature.
Now that candidate filing is closed, let the campaign fun begin.