Democratic Party chairman legislative race in question, Republicans pick up House seat and keep Senate post (Updated)

by George Jared (gjared@talkbusiness.net) 817 views 

Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray may have lost his bid for another term in the Arkansas State House on Tuesday night, according to returns posted on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s web site. The site reported that Gray was defeated 50% to 49% (3,643 to 3,545 votes cast) by Craig Christiansen in the District 47 contest, but a spokesperson for the Democratic Party said there may be an error in the reporting.

“We are working this on our side. It seems there was an error on the Secretary of State side,” Reed Brewer, DPA spokesman tells Talk Business & Politics.

Christiansen, Gray’s Republican challenger, learned he may have won the race when he was contacted by a Talk Business & Politics reporter.

“Bless you … It’s been an interesting race,” he said when informed of his victory. “We both fought a good race.”

Repeated attempts to reach Gray for comment were unsuccessful.

Christiansen has worked in state government for decades, he said. One thing he plans to do if he is declared the winner is work for the people of his district no matter what their political affiliation, he added.

“I don”t care if they are Republican or Democrat, … I will represent everyone in this district no matter what the party,” he said, if the results stand.

Another race that had many confused throughout the night was the State House District District 61. The Arkansas Secretary of State reported that incumbent Democratic candidate Scott Baltz as the winner by a 54% to 46% margin against challenger Marsh Davis, but the figures were wrong. Baltz told Talk Business & Politics the vote counts in Sharp County were transposed by the office on its Web site, he said. Baltz actually lost the contest by about 70 votes, he added.

“It was confusing and the numbers were wrong,” he said.

In one of the few state senate contests, Republican James Sturch won the District 19 race against his Democratic opponent Susi Epperson. Sturch received 73% (18,507) of votes cast in the contest. Sturch, a state representative, beat incumbent State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith in the Republican primary earlier this year.

Several other legislative races in Northeast Arkansas went to incumbents. Republican State Rep. Johnny Rye won 79% (3,596) of votes cast in the District 54 contest against Democrat Austin Jones. Democratic State Rep. Monte Hodges received 61% (3,857) of votes cast in his race against Republican Gary Tobar.

One race that only had partial results available was the State House District 56 race. Republican State Rep. Joe Jett was leading his opponent Democrat Ryan Carter with 75% (4,113) of votes counted. Only 34% of the votes in the race had been tabulated as of 1 a.m., according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Editor’s note: This original story has been edited to reflect new information that the results may be in error. The first story published cited the Secretary of State’s office results reporting that indicate Christiansen defeated Gray by a narrow margin. We will continue to monitor this race. 

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