**** UPDATE UPDATE *****
Republican Chair Doyle Webb sent a Twitter late Friday night saying the recount had been completed in Craighead County, the most populous in the House district and there was no change in the vote. This was the county where questions about some provisional ballots led to the Democratic candidate’s first questions about the outcome. That would appear to lengthen the odds of a change in results.
Following is what I wrote Friday afternoon.
The recount of the House District 52 race began today in Craighead County. This is the race in which Republican John Hutchison of Harrisburg has been declared a winner by 44 votes over Democrat L. J. Bryant of Grubbs with more than 10,000 votes cast. Bryant is paying for the recount.
Should Bryant win (a prospect many consider remote because most voting was done and tabulated electronically), the Republicans would hold 50, rather than a majority of 51, of the 100 House seats, with Democrats holding 49. The status of the loyalties of Fred Smith of the Green Party, a former Democrat, would then be critical. He’s believed to lean Democratic despite his past travails (Democrats sued to remove him because of a theft conviction later set aside), but I haven’t talked with him to confirm that.
The election night vote:
The other three counties will recount next week. Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said Independence might not be done until Thursday, the day the House is currently scheduled to meet to decide whether to vote again on a House speaker designate for 2013-14. Democrat Darrin Williams was elected earlier, but Republicans are expected to replace him with Terry Rice if they hold onto the majority.
I just heard that the Republican National Committee is taking this VERY seriously. In addition to a Doyle Webb intimidation squad, the RNC has sent a lawyer from Washington to monitor the recount. She’s Leslie Rutledge, an Arkansas native from Batesville (Independence County if you didn’t know) with experience in this sort of stuff.