Candidate filing begins in Arkansas for the new early primary, 2016 election cycle

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 268 views 

The next chapter of the 2016 campaign begins Monday (Nov. 2) as candidates turn in paperwork, pay filing fees and get ready for a 12-month marathon campaign.

The one-week filing period for most candidates start at noon Monday and goes through noon on Nov. 9 at the Capitol in Little Rock and in courthouses around the state. Judicial candidates may start filing at 3 p.m. Monday (Nov. 2) and continue through 3 p.m. (Nov. 9) at the Capitol.

The candidates are filing for the March 1 primary and judicial general election. Typically, Arkansas has its primary during May but the primary was moved up to March 1 next year. Arkansas will be at least one of a dozen states to have its primary March 1 as part of the so-called “SEC” presidential primary.

The primary ballot will include federal, state, county and judicial races around the state. The winners of the primary will head to the Nov. 8 general election, while the top two candidates who are under 50% in a federal or state race will advance to the March 22 runoff. In judicial races, the top two finishers under 50% will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

In addition to the presidential race, the ballot next year will have a United States Senate race and all four U.S. House races. U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., has announced he will seek a second six-year term. Boozman, who was in the U.S. House before winning the Senate seat, defeated two-term incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. in the 2010 election.

Former U.S. Prosecuting Attorney Conner Eldridge, a Democrat, announced in October he would challenge Boozman for the six-year term. Libertarian Frank Gilbert of Tull is also running for the Senate seat.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, will run for a fourth term to represent the First District. Libertarian Mark West of Oil Trough is the only announced candidate so far for the seat.

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, is seeking a second term in the House for the Second District. The only announced candidates so far for the seat are Democrat Dianne Curry and Libertarian Chris Hayes, both of Little Rock.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, will also run for a fourth term in 2016 in the Third District. Democrat Robbie Wilson of Fort Smith and Libertarian Nathan LaFrance of Bentonville are the only other announced candidates for the seat.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, is running for a second term next fall. Libertarian Kerry Hicks has announced a challenge against Westerman in the district, which covers most of southern and western Arkansas.

Voters will decide 100 state House and 17 state Senate seats during the Nov. 2016 general election. Republicans have a 63-36 majority in the House, with one lawmaker (Rep. Nate Bell), serving as an independent; and a 24-11 majority in the Senate.

As of Friday, 12 House members and one state Senator have announced they are not running for re-election. They include:

Arkansas House
• Rep. Prissy Hickerson, R-Texarkana (District 1)

• Rep. John Baine, D-El Dorado (District 7)

• Rep. Nate Bell, I-Mena (District 20)

• Rep. John Vines, D-Hot Springs (District 25)

• Rep. Julie Mayberry, R-Hensley (District 27)

• Rep. Donnie Copeland, R-North Little Rock (District 38), running for State Senate

• Rep. Dave Wallace, R-Leachville (District 54), running for State Senate

• Rep. Mary Broadaway, D-Paragould (District 57)

• Rep. Betty Overbey, D-Lamar (District 69)

• Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork (District 81)

• Rep. Micah Neal, R-Springdale (District 89)

• Rep. Kelley Linck, R-Flippin (District 99)

Copeland and Wallace are running for seats in the state Senate, while Neal is running for Washington County Judge.

Arkansas Senate
• Sen. David Johnson, D-Little Rock (District 34), run for a district judge seat in Pulaski County.

There are also races for the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals up for grabs next year. Two of the seats are on the Supreme Court.

Justice Courtney Goodson has announced she will be running for Chief Justice. Chief Justice Howard Brill was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson earlier this year to fill the unexpired term of then-Chief Justice Jim Hannah. Hannah resigned earlier this year due to health reasons.

Circuit Judge Shawn Womack announced earlier this year he will run for the Position 5 seat, held by Justice Paul Danielson. Danielson announced earlier this year he would not seek another eight-year term on the state’s highest court.

Circuit Judge Mike Murphy also announced he would run for the District 2, Position 2 seat on the Arkansas Court of Appeals, while attorney Mark Klappenbach announced he would run for the District 5 seat.

Both District 2, Position 2 Judge Cliff Hoofman and District 5 Judge Mike Kinard were appointed by then-Gov. Mike Beebe and cannot run for re-election.

Also on the ballot next year are District 6, Position 1 Judge Rita Gruber and District 7 Judge Waymond Brown.

Officials with both parties said on Friday that their parties are hopeful for a successful campaign.

“We are excited about the quality of our candidates, and look forward to working with them to run strong campaigns that reflect Arkansas values,” said Arkansas Democratic Party Communications Director H.L. Moody.

“The Republican Party of Arkansas is excited to grow our majority in 2016 and that begins with filing period. In addition to an expected record number of legislative candidates, Arkansans should expect to see Republicans filing for county-level offices in areas where voters previously were unable to vote their values due to a lack of conservative candidates on the ballot,” said state Republican party chairman Doyle Webb.