Despite campaigning by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the titular head of the Republican Party of Arkansas, State Sen. John Cooper, R-Jonesboro, could not stave off challenger Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, in one of the state’s most heated and watched GOP primaries.
Sullivan won convincingly Tuesday (March 3) with 59% (5,487) of votes cast as compared to Cooper’s 41% (3,879). Results are unofficial. There is no Democrat running for the seat meaning Sullivan will be seated in the State Senate next session. Attempts to reach Sullivan for comment were unsuccessful.
Sullivan and the governor have been at odds over a number of different issues including the Arkansas Works program, the Medicaid expansion program that is funded through the Affordable Care Act. Sullivan also opposed the governor’s highway tax plan that will be before voters in November 2020.
One of the biggest issues in the race centered around votes regarding gun restrictions. Sullivan touted his “A” rating with the National Rifle Association and frequently publicized Cooper’s “F” rating from the NRA.
In another hotly contested regional Republican primary in the House District 53 race, two contenders will go to a runoff. Candidate Cole Peck received 41 % (1,394) of the vote while challenger Jon Milligan received 33% (1,128) of the vote. Contender Bobby Long only received 26% (909 votes) meaning he will not qualify for the runoff.
Peck and Milligan are seeking to replace Sullivan who has held the seat since 2015. Peck narrowly lost to Sullivan in the same primary race in 2018.
In the House District 58 race, incumbent Rep. Brandt Smith, R-Jonesboro, easily defeated challenger Ken Yarbrough. Smith tallied 61% (2,260) of the vote, while Yarbrough mustered about 39% (1,440) of those cast.