Former Rep. Frank Glidewell won Tuesday’s (Aug. 14) special election to serve out the remainder of the term of Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith. Glidewell captured 70.9% of the vote, with Libertarian candidate William Hyman receiving 29.05%.
Glidewell is expected to be sworn in as a member of the Arkansas Senate on Aug. 24, and will serve as the senator representing the Fort Smith area until either Rep. Mat Pitsch, R-Fort Smith, or Hyman is sworn in on Jan. 14.
Hyman and Pitsch will face off in November for the regular term of the Senate seat.
Pitsch defeated Glidewell in a June 19 special election primary that ended in an unofficial 84-vote winning margin for the Senate District 8 seat vacated by Files, who pleaded guilty to federal charges, including bank fraud, and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
The outcome was in question following a three-way May 22 primary in which the top two vote-getters squared off against each other and fellow Republican Denny Altes. Glidewell took 40% of the vote to 35% for Pitsch and 26% for Altes. He also defeated Altes 65%-35% in a same-day special election to determine who would represent the GOP in the Aug. 14 special election against Hyman.
“I want to thank the citizens of Fort Smith and Sebastian county for their vote. Seven months of campaigning and three elections is a lot, and I’m glad that the process is now over,” Glidewell noted in a statement to Talk Business & Politics. “I’m happy that Fort Smith will again have representation in the senate after having gone without for most of this year as the result of Jake Files’ resignation.”
Glidewell said in the short period he has to serve he wants to push for greater oversight of certain state spending.
“I would like to focus on how we can achieve greater oversight of the regional planning and development districts in the state. As evidenced by the failed River Valley sports complex, as well as numerous other problems across the state have shown, the existing system of checks and balances in place to safeguard taxpayer monies being disbursed by these agencies is not sufficient,” Glidewell said.
He also said he’s concerned with how the state will “come up with the money to pay for the ever increasing share of Obamacare that the state will have to shoulder as the federal subsidies continue to decrease in future years.”
Hyman said he believes the almost 30% showing gives him momentum heading into November.
“I’d like to congratulate Frank Glidewell, he’s going to be a great senator in the limited time he has to serve our community. I would like to take this time to thank the people that helped me earn roughly 30% of the vote. That is groundbreaking for a third party candidate, and great progress for the people of Sebastian County,” he told Talk Business & Politics. “The real fight is this November. I hope to use this momentum to defeat Mat Pitsch and his unsound economic policies. If the criminal conviction of disgraced Senator Jake Files have taught us anything it is that we need less government involvement not more.”