Political filing for nonpartisan judicial races and the party primaries March 1 with little by way of big last-minute surprises.
Last week’s polling on former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter against Democratic Senate candidate Conner Eldridge didn’t lead to a Halter filing. Some speculate it was a bit of trickery intended to send a message to Eldridge, who’s running from the conservative end of the Democratic spectrum. Halter IS around. He’s among the hosts on a fund-raiser for the House Democratic caucus. The only other Democrat to file for Congress was Dianne Curry in the 2nd Congressional District, though all the congressmen will have at least libertarian opposition.
I don’t have the final numbers, but Republicans are guaranteed to hang onto big majorities in the House and Senate by the absence of Democratic challengers in a majority of seats and they have targeted a few incumbent Democrats as well. Democrats have targeted a handful of incumbent Republicans. Republicans currently have 64 House seats and one independent is a former Republican. They have 24 Senate seats. Democerats are going after one GOP incumbent, Republicans after two Democrats.
Benji’s tally (not including libertarian candidates in a number of races):
52 Rs only, no Dem running
22 Ds only, no Repub running
26 Both Rs and Ds running
10 Rs only, no Dem running
4 Ds only, no Repub running
3 Both Rs and Ds running
The big interest will be some contested Republican primaries between ultra-conservative Repubicans and ultra-ultra-conservative Republicans, the latter particularly hopeful of undoing Obamacare in the state.
One Republican primary of interest: John Arthur Hammerschmidt, son of the late former congerssman, will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Ron McNair in District 98.
Speaking of Republicans, former Republican Sen. Shawn Womack drew no opposition for a vacant seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court. He’ll have to answer no questions about past actions and statement sin support of criminalizing homosexuality and preventing not only marriage but also adoption by gay people. As a circuit judge, he got off a criminal case because he said he didn’t have the background to handle it. He’lll get some on-the-job experience starting in 2017. UPDATE: I forgot. Judicial filing doesn’t close until 3 p.m. So there’s still an hour window of opportunity for an opponent to Womack to surface. And at 2:45 p.m. I got word a candidate was heading to Capitol.
The primary was moved up from May by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to include the state in regional Republican primaries, perhaps helpful to former Gov. Mike Huckabee. His presidential campaign has lagged far behind in the polls, however.
PS: LaTonya Austin, a Little Rock lawyer who’d announced as a candidate against incumbent Judge Alice Gray, decided not to run after all. She said she’d run for the seat in 2022.