Tuesday night went to the incumbents in Arkansas’ races for constitutional and U.S. House seats. With the exceptions of John Thurston, who was promoted by voters to Secretary of State, and Tommy Land, who claimed Thurston’s vacant Commissioner of State Lands position, all of Arkansas’ constitutional offices stayed the same.
However, there will be a bevy of new faces in the Arkansas General Assembly come January.
The Arkansas Senate will welcome five new lawmakers, all of whom have made their way across the Capitol from the House. Greg Leding (D-District 4), Bob Ballinger (R-District 5), Mathew Pitsch (R-District 8), James Sturch (R-District 19) and Kim Hammer (R-District 33) will be sworn into the Senate in January.
Mark Johnson, of District 15, will also be headed to the Arkansas Senate, though he had no opponent going into Tuesday’s election.
The Arkansas House will feature some fresher faces, welcoming new lawmakers Don Glover (D-District 11), Jasen Kelly (R-District 28), Andrew Collins (D-District 35), Mark Perry (D-District 42), Craig Christiansen (R-District 47), Marsha Davis (R-District 61), Spencer Hawks (R-District 70), Joe Cloud (R-District 71), Denise Garner (D-District 84), Megan Godfrey (D-District 89), Gayla Hendren McKenzie (R-District 92) and Harlan Breaux (R-District 97).
It’s worth noting that Christiansen will make his way to the House after defeating the state’s Democratic Party chairman and two-term legislator Rep. Michael John Gray. But according to the Secretary of State’s website, Gray trails Christiansen by less than 100 votes, and the state’s Democratic Party is claiming an error in the reporting.
It’s also worth noting that Rep. Mickey Gates, a Republican serving District 22 which encompasses Garland and Saline counties, won his re-election bid despite being charged with failing to pay taxes. Gov. Asa Hutchinson called for Gates to resign this summer. He held his seat with 65 percent of the vote.
All three ballot measures presented to voters on Tuesday passed with a significant amount of support.
Issue 2, the voter ID measure, passed with 79 percent of the vote. With its passage, voters will be required to show valid identification as a qualification for voting. The Supreme Court upheld a state law passed in 2017 to require voter identification at the polls. With Issue 2 passed, the requirement will be written into the state’s constitution.
Issue 4, the state’s casino gaming amendment, passed with 54 percent of the vote. The amendment will allow four casino licenses to be distributed in Hot Springs, West Memphis, Pine Bluff and Russellville.
Issue 5, the minimum wage hike amendment, passed with 68 percent of the vote. The amendment will raise the state’s minimum wage from $8.50 to $9.25 in 2019, to $10 in 2020 and to $11 in 2021.
Little Rock Mayor’s Race
Little Rock voters will have to cast their ballots again to decide the city’s race for mayor. Top vote-getters Frank Scott Jr. and Baker Kurrus will go head to head in a runoff. Scott garnered 37 percent of the vote and Kurrus with 29 percent. Warwick Sabin finished with 28 percent; Vincent Tolliver and Glen Schwarz both finished with three percent.