Three special legislative elections now have dates set for candidate filing and the timing of the elections. With two Arkansas lawmakers stepping down from their posts for jobs in the Trump administration and the passing of a third legislator, 2018 will have a little more election activity than expected and more may be on the way.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set special election schedules for vacancies in State Senate District 16, State Senate District 29, and State House District 83. Senate District 16 was the seat held by the late Sen. Greg Standridge, R-Russellville; Senate District 29 was held by Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot; and House District 83 was held by State Rep. David Branscum. Williams and Branscum have taken roles appointed by President Donald Trump.
The period for filing for candidacy as a party candidate with the Secretary of State’s Office starts at noon on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, and ends at noon on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. Independents must file by December 13, 2017 and write-in candidates must file notice by the same date.
Candidate filing will take place in the Secretary of State’s Elections Library located in Room 26 on the lower level of the State Capitol.
Hutchinson set the dates for all three special elections to coincide on the same dates. They include: Primary election on Feb. 13, 2018; Runoff election, if necessary, on March 13, 2018; and General election on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
Who is running for these offices? See “The List” at this link. There’s been one big announcement since the last list was posted. State Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, said he’s not seeking re-election in 2018.
SEN. COTTON SPECULATION RUNS RAMPANT
Despite President Trump claiming on Friday (Dec. 1) that no changes are expected in his administration concerning Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, last week’s speculation that Tillerson may be out, CIA director Mike Pompeo may be his replacement, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., may replace Pompeo was abundant.
Cotton only said he’s interested in serving his Arkansas constituents, but there’s little doubt that the media frenzy was well-sourced.
A resignation from Cotton to take an administration post would set an appointment and possible special election in motion in 2018 to fill the U.S. Senate seat. Wright Lindsey Jennings attorney Justin Allen outlined the process in this guest commentary.
While it is still speculative, it hasn’t stopped pundits from putting together two lists – one of potential gubernatorial appointments to the position and one of people who might run if there’s a special election.
On Sunday’s Talk Business & Politics, contributors Jessica DeLoach Sabin and John Burris broached the topic. Watch their video below.
GOP TAX BILL ANOTHER ISSUE IN DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGERS’ ARSENAL
While health care, education and Trump have been front-and-center in activating a new wave of Arkansas Democratic candidates for 2018, Friday night’s theatrical Senate vote on a GOP tax bill will give Democrats another issue to contrast next year.
Along party lines, Republicans in the U.S. Senate passed their tax reform measure on a 51-49 vote. Only Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker opposed the measure. The bill would:
- Lower the tax rate for corporations from 35% to 20% starting in 2019;
- Lowers the top tax rate from 39.6% to 38.5%;
- Maintains deductions for charities, expands estate tax exemption, and lowers taxes on “pass through” business like LLCs;
- Keeps seven tax brackets, but cuts rates at every level and it raises many of the income thresholds to qualify for higher brackets;
- Expands standard deduction and child tax credit, but ends personal exemption;
- Eliminates deductions such as tax prep, biking to work, and moving expenses;
- Ends the individual health insurance mandate, opens drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and allows for taxation of big university endowments.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has pulled together here several analyses on the bills in the Senate and House.
The Senate bill now goes to a conference committee where a House-passed bill will be merged and negotiations will take place. In all likelihood, a party line vote ought to occur before year-end.
Arkansas’ two senators were quick to issue statements. From Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.:
“The bill we passed tonight puts us one step closer to bringing tax relief to working families. It will let Arkansans keep more of their hard-earned money and help our businesses create more jobs. It’s just what we need to make our economy grow faster. I’m also pleased this bill includes my proposal to repeal the Obamacare individual-mandate tax. This is the cruelest part of that hated law. It punishes over 65,000 Arkansas families and the poor for being unable to afford the insurance that Obamacare itself made unaffordable. Its repeal is long overdue, and I urge the conference committee to include this provision in the final bill.”
From Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.:
“Today’s vote brings us one step closer to historic tax relief for Arkansans while encouraging investment that will help grow the Natural State’s economy. It’s all about helping hardworking Arkansans keep more of their money in their own pockets, not Uncle Sam’s. Passage of the Senate bill is a great step toward finally having an efficient and effective tax code that works for the American people by doubling the standard deduction, lowering rates and eliminating loopholes.”
Several Democratic Congressional candidates also issued statements. From Second District Democrat Paul Spencer:
“While most Americans were sleeping, the Republican-controlled Senate showed the American people just how far they are willing to go to obey their wealthy donors. At the expense of the people they are elected to represent, these Republican Senators have paved the way for a cascade of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest members of our society. With the passage of the ‘Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,’ the Republicans have utterly disregarded working and middle-class Americans, and have made clear their commitment to rigging the economy in the favor of a privileged few. We have been told time and time again that this bill provides tax relief to middle class and working families, but that is simply not true. By the end of the decade, a majority of Americans will see a tax increase, while the billionaire class who own shares in corporations will see their cuts made permanent.”
From Second District Democrat Gwen Combs:
“The Senate’s egregious pre-dawn vote for tax “reform” – which will hurt the vast majority of Arkansans – is merely the latest example of how true statesmen have been replaced by power-hungry shysters who serve only one master: Money. The House and Senate versions of the tax bill were rushed through with dizzying speed. Few – if any – congressmen have read either version in its entirety, some because of lack of time, others because they don’t want to acknowledge that this bill is steeped in cruelty.
Arkansans want the same things most Americans are seeking: accessible and affordable health care; well-funded and thriving public schools; a means to address the violence that is plaguing our urban centers; better treatment of our veterans; equitable wages; and hope ― hope for a better future, for ourselves and for our children. Friends, today we find ourselves in that proverbial darkest hour. I choose believe that we can see the first hints of dawn. I see it in the grassroots movements that have formed. I see it in the faces of our younger generations. But it will take a united effort – and solid voter turnout at midterms – to undo the damage being done by this Congress and White House administration.”
Editor’s note: ‘Notes from the Campaign Trail’ is a compilation of various political insider tidbits. It is sponsored by Campbell Ward Consulting|Communications.