The List: Democratic candidate announcements could threaten GOP supermajority, but majorities still safe for now

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,088 views 

In our latest installment of “The List,” our roundup of new candidate filings and a comprehensive roster of those seeking office in Arkansas in 2018, we’ve added the latest announcements. Despite a number of Democrats stepping forward, Republicans still appear largely unthreatened in holding their majorities in the state legislature and in the seven constitutional offices.

Jason Tolbert (new Twitter handle: @TolbertARPX) and Trey Baldwin (@BaldwinAR) have been working overtime to keep up with those making their campaign intentions known. Send your tips to them, read their analysis below, and feel free to send candidate announcements to [email protected].

You can access the full, updated candidate list for free at this link.

Here are several of the high-profile announcements that we’ve added to the list since our last update before Thanksgiving.

  • Governor – Jay Martin, Democrat (dropped out Thursday)
  • U.S. Congress, District 1 – Chintan Desai, Democrat
  • State Senate District 16 – Breanne Davis, Republican
  • State Senate District 16 – Luke Heffley – Republican
  • State Senate District 16 – Teresa Gallegos – Democrat
  • State Senate District 24 – Dorothy Cooper, Democrat
  • State Senate District 29 – Jim Coy, Republican
  • State Senate District 29 – Ricky Hill, Republican
  • House District 11 – Don Glover, Democrat
  • House District 28 – Dustin Parsons, Democrat
  • House District 31 – Mike Lee, Democrat
  • House District 42 – Mark Perry, Democrat
  • House District 54 – Austin Jones, Democrat
  • House District 80 – Kim Snow, Democrat
  • House District 81 – Donnie McKinney, Democrat
  • House District 84 – Denise Garner, Democrat

We hear there are many more poised to announce for office, including a surprise Lt. Governor candidate and several Republicans who may challenge Democratic incumbents in the State House. Stay tuned.

Presently, Baldwin and Tolbert highlight the challenges facing Democrats in finding their way back to a stronger political position at the capitol. Although there are a rising number of Democratic announcements, the numbers shake out like this presently:

With special elections pending, there will actually be 20 of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs in 2018.

Republicans currently hold 24 State Senate seats, while Democrats hold nine seats. The seats held by Sen. Greg Standridge, R-Russellville, who passed away, and Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, who has taken a Trump administration job, are open. There are currently only five Democratic challengers so far for seats held by Republicans in the upper chamber.

On the House side, all 100 seats are up for re-election. Presently, Republicans have 75 of those seats; they held 76, but Rep. David Branscum, R-Marshall, has taken a Trump administration job and stepped down from his position. Democrats hold 24 seats in the House.

Here is a snapshot of some partisan breakdowns:

  • 3 House Democratic incumbents have GOP challengers
  • 9 House Republican incumbents have Democratic challengers
  • 14 House seats are open

“The good news for Arkansas Democrats is there are still about three months left to recruit candidates,” said TB&P contributor Trey Baldwin. “The dynamics for recruiting and base enthusiasm are in the Democrats’ favor and Northwest Arkansas is pretty hot recruiting candidates.”

“However, there are some glaring uncontested House races so far that were close or recently held by Democrats, such as seats in Forrest City, Hot Springs, Arkadelphia, Jonesboro, Paragould, Hope, Malvern, and Lonoke,” Baldwin added. “In the Senate, in my opinion, this would have to be a multi-cycle approach for Democrats to make significant gains.”

TB&P’s Tolbert wonders if Republicans can add to their strong majorities or will 2018 see a slight withering of GOP control.

“With 75 out of 100 seats in the House and 24 out of 35 in the Senate, the only question is: Have the Republicans peaked?” Tolbert said. “Although they are still recruiting, Democrats currently do not have enough candidates to retake the House, so their chances of reaching 51 seats are slim.”

He added, “With only about half of the Senate seats up for re-election, the Republicans are almost certain to hold the upper chamber. At the same time, Republicans will have to work hard to hold their super-majority numbers often needed to pass budget bills.”


Editor’s note: “The List” is a component of ‘Notes from the Campaign Trail’, a compilation of various political insider tidbits that is sponsored by Campbell Ward Consulting|Communications.