Notes from the Campaign Trail: Observations on primary results and the Supreme Court race

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,851 views 

There were three Republican State Senate primaries and two Democratic ones on Super Tuesday.

The highest profile race involved Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, who was ousted by Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro. The hard-hitting race saw the governor campaign for Cooper, a key vote on the state’s Medicaid expansion program and a supporter of his highway plan. Sullivan opposed those two votes, although voting records on gun rights and a dual county seat were a big factor in this race. Sullivan won 59-41% in the District 21 seat.

Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, staved off a challenge from Jeff Crow in their GOP primary. Clark took about 68% of the vote to Crow’s 32%.

Republicans Ben Gilmore and Bill Dunklin were running for the GOP nomination in Senate District 26. Gilmore, a staffer in the Lt. Governor’s office, pulled out the victory by a 51-49% margin. The winner faces Democratic incumbent Sen. Eddie Cheatham, D-Crossett.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, easily handled another run from Efrem Elliott with a 75-25% win. Democrat Keidra Burrell out paced former State Rep. Garry Smith in the District 27 primary by a 66-34% margin. She’ll compete against incumbent GOP Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, this fall.

In the House, there were 13 Republican primaries and three Democratic ones. Here’s how they all played out:

District 21
Rep. Marcus Richmond 51%
Jim Reynolds 49%

District 22
Richard McGrew 59%
Richard Midkiff 10%
Jack Wells 31%
(McGrew also won the special election to fill out the remainder of the House seat that opened up due to the removal of Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs.)

District 26
Rick McClure 69%
Lorna Nobles 31%

District 28
Tony Furman 61%
Marietta McClure 39%

District 31
Keith Brooks 50.3%
R.J. Hawk 49.7%
(May undergo a recount)

District 40
David Ray 61%
Karyn Maynard 29%

District 53
Cole Peck 41%
Jon Milligan 33%
Bobby Long 26%
(Headed to a run-off between Peck and Milligan.)

District 58
Rep. Brandt Smith 61%
Ken Yarbrough 39%

District 74
Rep. Jon Eubanks 63%
Curtis Varnell 24%
Shawn Bates 13%

District 90
Rep. Jana Della Rosa 43%
Kendon Underwood 36%
Chris Latimer 21%
(Headed to a run-off between Della Rosa and Underwood.)

District 91
Scott Richardson 44.5%
Delia Haak 33.5%
Jorge Becker 22%
(Headed to a run-off between Haak and Richardson.)

District 94
John Carr 52%
Adrienne Woods 48%

District 100
Rep. Nelda Speaks 57.5%
Paige Evans 42.5%

District 34
Joy Springer 64%
Ryan Davis 28%
Lee Miller 8%

District 36
Rep. Denise Ennett 70%
Russell Williams 30%

District 41
Jannie Cotton 65%
Zach Randall 35%

Joe Biden won 74 of 75 counties in Arkansas on Super Tuesday. Bernie Sanders won Washington County, but Biden’s strength was nearly universal across the state. Biden’s largest margin of victory came in Jefferson County, where he beat Sanders by a 3.5-to-1 margin.

Four years ago, Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders in Arkansas with 74 of 75 counties in her win column. In 2016, Sanders lone county of victory was Newton County.

The home counties of Arkansas Supreme Court candidates Barbara Webb and Judge Chip Welch were of interest.

While Webb won 54%-46% statewide, in her home county of Saline County she won 53-47% – about a 1,300 vote margin of victory. Welch won his home county of Pulaski County 51-49%, which equated to about a 1,500 vote margin of victory.

Webb racked up about half of her advantage in four particular counties. She performed well in Benton County (+7,551), Faulkner County (+2,529), Garland County (+3,436), and Sebastian County (+3,076). With her overall statewide margin of victory at 32,746, those four counties accounted for a 16,592 vote advantage.

With political affiliations making an appearance in this Supreme Court race, it’s interesting to point out the performance of the candidates in three counties known for their political affiliations. Welch actually won Lonoke County, a typical GOP stronghold, while Webb won Jefferson County, a usually reliable Democratic (or anti-GOP) base. Washington County was a near-even split with Webb winning 51-49% (17,954 to 17,402).

We’ve updated our Candidate List to reflect the winners and run-off bound candidates after Tuesday’s election cycle. You can access the updated list at this link.