Hutchinson’s picks leading in six of eight legislative races, ‘Arkansas Works’ in the balance

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 213 views 

Of the eight contested Republican primary races where Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s political action committee donated money in support of candidates supportive of his Arkansas Works initiative, six were winning Tuesday night, though at least two of those races were tight as of 11 p.m.

ASA PAC had contributed $5,400 to three Senate campaigns and five House races where the state’s Medicaid expansion was a central issue and where Hutchinson had supported candidates who agreed with his aims.

In 2013, the state created the private option, the program that uses federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private insurance for adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. The program now covers more than 200,000 adults. Hutchinson wants to continue a modified version he is calling Arkansas Works.

Among Hutchinson’s favored Senate candidates:
• In Senate District 7, Rep. Lance Eads of Springdale was leading Sharon Lloyd, 60-40%. Eads had 1,493 votes, while Lloyd had 1,011 votes.

• In Senate District 29, Sen. Eddie Joe Williams of Cabot was leading Pulaski County Justice of the Peace R.D. Hopper, 55-45%. Williams had 6,842 votes, while Hopper had 5,531.

• In Senate District 34, Sen. Jane English of North Little Rock was leading Rep. Donnie Copeland of Little Rock, 51-49%. English had 5,714 votes, while Copeland had 5,422 votes. The winner faces Democrat Joe Woodson in the general election.

Leading House candidates supported by Hutchinson were:
• In House District 63, Rep. James Sturch of Batesville was winning a second term over Phillip Finch, 70-30% Sturch had 3,435 votes, while Finch had 1,461.

• In House District 90, Rep. Jana Della Rosa of Rogers was leading former Rep. Randy Alexander and Jana Starr, 66-28-7%. Della Rosa had 1,336 votes, Alexander had 564, and Starr had 135.

• In House District 94, Rep. Rebecca Petty of Rogers was leading former Rep. Debra Hobbs, 52-48%. Petty had 721 votes, while Hobbs had 659. The winner faces Democrat Grimsley Graham in the general election.

Hutchinson backed apparent losing candidates in the following two races:
• In House District 66, Rep. Josh Miller of Heber Springs was leading Chris Steplock, 75-25%. Miller had 4,909 votes, while Steplock had 1,653. Miller was the only incumbent Hutchinson had opposed.

• In House District 95, Austin McCollum was leading Rep. Sue Scott of Rogers, 56-44%. McCollum had 1,251 votes, while Scott had 968. The winner faces Libertarian Grant Brand in the general election.

In other contested House Republican races:
• In House District 1, Carol Dalby was leading Rusty Latham, 59-41%.

• In House District 25, Les Warren was leading Richard Midkiff, 70-30%. The winner will face Democrat Jerry Rephan in the general election.

• In House District 27, former Rep. Andy Mayberry was leading former Rep. Mike Creekmore, 63-37%. The winner will face Democrat Melissa Fults in the general election.

• In House District 54, Wes Wagner was leading Johnny Rye, 56-44%. The winner will face Democrat Hunter Williams in the general election.

• In House District 57, Jimmy Gazaway was leading Shawn Strouss and Ronnie Spence, 65-20-16%. Gazaway, who serves as deputy prosecuting attorney in Poinsett County, will face Democrat Frankie Gilliam of Paragould in November.

• In House District 81, Bruce Coleman was leading Derek Goodlin 51%-49% with just 13% of precincts reporting. The winner of this primary will face Democratic candidate Susan McCaughey in the general election.

• In House District 88, Isaac Foley was leading Clint Penzo and Philip Humbard, 37-36-27%.

• In House District 89, Jeff Williams was leading Charles Gaines, 65-35%. The winner faces Democrat Irvin Camacho in the general election.

• In House District 98, Rep. Ron McNair of Alpena was leading John Arthur Hammerschmidt, 51-49%. Hammerschmidt is the son of former U.S. House Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt.

• In House District 99, Jack Fortner was leading Bruce Emerson, 60-40%.

In contested Democratic primaries:
• In House District 7, Floyd Thomas was leading Garry Smith, 73-27%.

• In House District 30, Rep. Charles Armstrong of Little Rock, the incumbent, was losing to Fred Allen, 65.5-34.5%

• In House District 38, Victoria Leigh was leading Kent Walker, 52-48%. The winner will face Republican Carlton Wing in the general election.