story by Jamie Smith
Early projections were that Republicans would win an overwhelming victory and that appears to have happened in the Senate. Several House seats are still up for grabs, however. Of the eight contested legislative seats in Northwest Arkansas, it appears that two races are going to the Democrats.
Going into the Nov. 6 election, Republicans were anticipating assuming control of one or both houses of the Arkansas Legislature for the first time in almost 140 years.
Prior to the election, the Arkansas legislature had the smallest margin of Democratic rule since Reconstruction. House Democrats outnumber Republicans 54-46, while the State Senate has a 20-15 Democratic advantage.
Arkansas Republicans needed to gain only 5 new seats in the House and just 3 in the Senate to capture numerical control of the respective chambers.
As part of their plan to seek majority control in the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate, the Arkansas GOP promoted a “SIMPLE” plan that includes phasing in lower rates for Arkansas’ individual income tax.
“We know that Arkansas Republicans have captured control of the Senate,” said Rep. Greg Leding, who had nearly 62% of the vote as of just before midnight. “We wish them all the best. We believe the House control is still undetermined. We know that regardless of the turnout, it will be an evenly divided Arkansas House.
“Either way, we look forward to coming together to work for the people of Arkansas come January.” (Link here for more info on the uncertainty surrounding political control of the Arkansas House of Representatives.)
Leding said that Northwest Arkansas has “always been tough territory for Democrats” but that he “genuinely feels that Democrats are the strongest they have been in a long time. We’re ready to compete in 2014.”
Although several Republicans who could be reached for comment Tuesday (Nov. 6) night expressed frustration about the results of the presidential election, they were pleased at local results.
“It will be exciting times,” said Republican Randy Alexander, the probable winner of the District 88 race with an early 65% majority. “We’ve never had a Republican majority before. We will want to go in different directions than the prior history in the state.”
Republican Micah Neal had an early majority of more than 64% in the District 89 race for the Arkansas House.
“I’m looking forward to representing the people of Springdale and making improvements to more people’s lives by putting more money in their pocket and really making a difference,” he said.
Jon Woods, the winner for the Senate District 7 race with a nearly 65% majority, already has six years under his belt as an Arkansas lawmaker in the House of Representatives. It’s the relationships that he built during that time that he believes helped make him successful in the campaign and will help during his time in the Senate.
“My conservative views reflect that of the district,” he said of the victory. “I’m a proactive lawmaker and that is something they find attractive.”