Here’s a runoff election night thread. I may leave it to y’all to sweat in the low votes in the 1st and 4th Districts, where Democrats are contesting for congressional nominations.
With more than 70 percent of the vote tallied, Jonesboro Prosecutor Scott Ellington is leading state Rep. Clark Hall of Marvell, 56-44.
Preferences will vary sharply in a huge district that stretches the length of the state’s eastern side, but the gap looked too large for Hall to overcome. His strength lies in lightly populated farming areas. Turnout was beyond light, not even a third of the Democratic runoff vote two years ago.
Same warning on votes for another sprawling district, that extends from the piney woods of South Arkansas to the Arkansas River Valley. But Sen. Gene Jeffress, who ran a virtually unfunded people-to-people campaign, held a 61-39 lead over Hot Springs lawyer Q. Byrum Hurst with almost 90 percent of the vote in.
Hurst held out hope for Garland and surrounding counties, with a fairly sizable potential vote. But they weren’t enough and he has conceded, pledging to work for Jeffress in November.
In Pulaski County
Only one runoff on the ballot in the state’s largest county, for an open House seat in a district that covers parts of central and southwestern Little Rock. Charles Armstrong, a member of the Little Rock School Board, led voting in the first primary and he defeateed runoff opponent Tommy Branch by a 58-42 margin. The vote was a pitiful 321-234.
This race is interesting because it portends a potential race of interest on the Little Rock School Board in September to replace Armstrong, who’ll give up his School Board seat. That seat could be a swing vote on a Board that often splits 4-3 along racial lines, with Armstrong generally, but not always, voting with the black majority.
Republicans will be happy with Ellington and Jeffress as Democratic nominees. National Democratic support for Ellington will be iffy, because the party nabobs had designated Hall as their choice. Ellington will have little money. That could create breathing room for the weak Republican incumbent, Rep. Rick Crawford. His incumbency and Republican wealth guarantee he can raise all he needs.
In the 4th, Jeffress won’t have much more money than he did in the primary, though his Blue Doggedness, combined with traditional themes such as Social Security and Medicare, might serve him well. Republican nominee Tom Cotton, the Washington insider who’s deigned to represent the great Arkansas unwashed in Washington, will be awash in special interest money. He’ll have a Scrooge McDuck-worthy swimming pool full of loot for fall. But he DOES want to dismantle Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. He DOES want to break the social contract with the poor people of South Arkansas. If issues count, and national Democrats decide they want to keep the Republicans at least occupied, they might send some money in the direction of the 4th District, rather rudely abandoned by Rep. Mike Ross for a move to the corporate lobbying ranks.
Fox 16 has a handy, easy-to-read running summary of all the runoffs tonight, which include a few other legislative primary contests.