GOP primary forms in Arkansas House District representing Fort Smith

story by Ryan Saylor

House District 76 now officially has a Republican primary and while the last names are the same as 2012, there are no incumbents vying for the seat, only the son of the current incumbent.

Republican Bobby Altes, the son of Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith, has announced he will seek the seat his father is vacating after this term due to term-limits, setting up a primary challenge with Mat Pitsch, who ran against the elder Altes in the 2012 Republican primary.

A local businessman and a native of Fort Smith, Altes said he was looking forward the campaign and a chance to serve the citizens of the area.

“I am excited to be announcing my candidacy for the office of state representative No. 76 because serving the citizens of Fort Smith has been an important goal of mine,” he said on his Facebook page.

Altes also said he would follow in his father's footsteps, being a consistent conservative voice in the General Assembly.

"Fort Smith deserves to continue with conservative leadership and the pursuit of a value agenda. Those values include limited government, reduced spending and lower taxes and most importantly to make Arkansas a business-friendly environment."

In order to be more business friendly, Altes said Arkansas should "position itself to be more competitive with neighboring states. Current Arkansas practices and laws often discourage new businesses from locating within the state losing precious jobs and revenues.”

Altes also made no bones about his views on Obamacare and alluded to the oft-contentious Private Option, Arkansas' Obamacare solution that takes Medicaid patients and places them on private insurance.

"As a conservative, I am also concerned about forced government health care and the impact on small businesses and full-time jobs. I do not believe in government fixes and feel personal responsibility must play a part in long-term Arkansas solutions."

Altes said he is a lifelong Fort Smith resident, graduating from Southside High School and the University of Arkansas with degrees in business administration and accounting. He has previously worked as a logistics manager for J.B. Hunt Trucking and currently owns Altes Sanitation.

Altes and Pitsch will face in the GOP primary May 20.