Sen. Boozman avoids runoff; other Arkansas congressional incumbents win

by Steve Brawner ([email protected]) 2,451 views 

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., grinded his way to a clear victory in the Republican primary race for his U.S. Senate seat on Tuesday (May 24), while Arkansas’ three U.S. House incumbents with opponents cruised to easy victories.

With 98% of precincts reporting, Boozman was leading his race with 58% of the vote, or 198,842 votes, well above the 50%-plus-one threshold to avoid a runoff. In second place was Jake Bequette with 21%, or 70,957 votes. Jan Morgan was third with 19%, or 64,964. Heath Loftis was fourth with 2%, or 7,978 votes.

In the Democratic primary, Natalie James was the victor with 54% of the vote. Dan Whitfield was second with 31%, while Jack Foster was third with 15%.

In the 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, was leading with 74%. State Rep. Brandt Smith was second with 14%, while Jody Shackleford was third with 11.5%. Crawford faces State Rep. Monte Hodges, D-Blytheville, in the Nov. 8 general election.

In the 2nd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, had a big lead over Conrad Reynolds, 58%-42%. Hill will face Democrat Quintessa Hathaway and Libertarian Michael White in the general election.

In the 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, was leading Neil Kumar, 79% to 21%. Womack will face Democrat Lauren Mallet-Hays and Libertarian Michael Kalagias in the general election.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, in the 4th Congressional District did not face a primary opponent. He faces Democrat John White and Libertarian Gregory Maxwell in the general election.

Boozman faced a spirited challenge in his re-election campaign. Bequette raised $1.26 million on his own, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report, while benefiting from a $1 million donation from wealthy donor Richard Uihlein to a Bequette-supporting political action committee. He attempted to make the case that Boozman is a too-quiet “RINO,” or “Republican In Name Only” unwilling to stand up to President Joe Biden.

Morgan raised almost $600,000 and had name recognition coming into the race after winning 30% of the vote challenging Gov. Asa Hutchinson in the 2018 Republican primary for governor.

But Boozman raised almost $6 million and had the support of powerful Republican allies. He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new Republican nominee for governor and Boozman’s campaign manager in his 2010 Senate race. Sanders and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., recorded campaign ads for Boozman.

A poll taken by Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College on May 2 showed Boozman likely would avoid a runoff. He was leading with 45% of the vote with 18% undecided. At the time, Bequette was second with 19% and Morgan was third with 16.5%.

Boozman has a history of winning multi-candidate races. In that 2010 U.S. Senate race, he won 53% of the vote in an eight-candidate field and advanced to the general election without a runoff. In 2001, he placed first in a four-person race for the U.S. House 3rd District, then won the runoff and was elected in the general election.