Brian Chilson
THE FINAL HOUR: Joyce Elliott was among the last filers for office today.

Filing for partisan primaries ended at noon and the big action was in the Democratic primary race for president — 18 candidates, with three Republicans and an independent and a Libertarian also filing.

The Dems ranged, alphabetically, from Joe Biden to Andrew Yang, with names familiar and unfamiliar in between. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s celebrity appearance drew a lot of attention, though it remains to seen if that will translate into Arkansas votes.

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In Republican filings today, Bill Weld joined the Republican presidential race against Donald Trump and Rocky De La Fuente.

It appears Republican Rep. Rick Crawford will not have a challenger for re-election in the 1st Congressional District, but Sen. Joyce Elliott emerged as a surprise challenger to 2nd District Republican French Hill. Democratic opponents had filed earlier in the 3rd and 4th Districts.

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No tally yet on contested legislative seats, but my impression was one of increased vigor on the Democratic side. But the Republican influence is certain to remain strong. About half the Senate seats on the ballot drew no Democratic candidate. All 100 House seats are on the ballot, but I think the Republicans will fall short of starting the season with a majority of the seats lacking a Democratic candidate.

You can see the full list here. The filing for non-partisan offices — judges and prosecutors — doesn’t close until 3 p.m. At last check it appeared that Judge Chip Welch and Republican party chair Doyle Webb’s wife, Barbara Webb, would be the only candidates for the Supreme Court seat currently held by Justice Jo Hart, who is expected to retire, but has made no announcement. UPDATE: Closing ended with no further filings for the office, including from the incumbent Justice Hart.

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UPDATE: The Democratic Party updated its candidates, who’ll contest half the Senate seats on the ballot and more than half of the House seats. Its release:

 Candidate filing for the 2020 election is officially closed and Arkansas Democrats are fielding one of the strongest and most diverse slates of candidates in the state’s history.
 
“Arkansans deserve to have real choices when they vote and I am proud of every one of the candidates who have stepped forward. The Democratic Party of Arkansas is running strong, qualified candidates in some of the most contested seats in Arkansas. We are going to see some seats picked up, which is good news for Arkansans who want access to healthcare, who want better wages, and who want to see their children succeed in good schools,” said Chairman Michael John Gray. “We are also seeing that our Party is reflective of the great diversity in our state. I’m proud of that and of the voices that will start being heard at the state Capitol in Little Rock.”
 
Here is a helpful breakdown of the candidates:
 
59 – State House Candidates 
54 – House Districts Represented 
10 – State Senate Candidates 
9 – Senate Districts Represented 
3 – U.S. Congress Candidates
1 – U.S. Senate Candidate
 
The Democratic Party of Arkansas will nominate the most diverse slate of candidates in our state’s history. 28 of those candidates are female and 34 are people of color.