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Tucker Avoids Runoff In 2nd District; Reps. Westerman, Womack Win Easily

Clarke Tucker
Jackson Floyd

Arkansas State Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, won the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 2nd Congressional District race Tuesday, avoiding a runoff and moving on to challenge U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, in the general election.

In other races, U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, were on their way to easily defeating their Republican Party challengers.

Tucker carried close to 60% of the vote throughout the night and led with almost 59% of the vote  at about 10:20 p.m. In second was Gwen Combs with 21%. Paul Spencer had 13%, while Jonathan Dunkley had 10%.

Tucker gave a victory speech at about 9:30 p.m. even though the race had not yet been called by the Associated Press. Recalling that Sen. Dale Bumpers had said that politics is a noble profession, he said his three opponents had personified that ideal.

Tucker laid out some of his campaign themes in his speech, including health care, his signature issue. He referenced a friend made during the campaign who, like him, was diagnosed with cancer in her 30s.

“Without health, you can’t do anything else. You can’t work. You can’t take care of your family and the people that you love,” he said. “In 2018 in the United States, every person needs to have access to quality health care at an affordable rate.”

He also said that anyone working in the United States should make enough money for life’s basic needs, adding that wages should be equal whether a person is a man or woman or if they are a person of color. He also called for reducing student debt levels and providing alternative career pathways.

Shortly afterward, Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb released a statement saying, “Clarke Tucker is a Hillary Clinton-supporting Democrat for higher taxes and bigger government, and for all the same reasons Nancy Pelosi’s liberal allies support Clarke Tucker, Arkansans should oppose him.”

Tucker entered the race late on Feb. 5 but then managed to raise $602,000 as of May 2 and had $240,000 cash on hand. Hill, meanwhile, has raised more than $1.5 million this election cycle and had more than $1.6 million on hand. Joe Swafford is the Libertarian Party nominee. No financial data for his campaign is available on the Federal Election Commission website.

In other races, Womack was leading Robb Ryerse, 85%-15%, in the 3rd District race and next faces Democratic Joshua Mahony and Libertarian Michael Kalagias. Womack has raised close to $700,000 this cycle and had more than $1.2 million cash on hand as of May 2. Mahony had raised $127,000 and had more than $45,000 cash on hand. No information for Kalagias’ campaign was available on the FECs website.

In the 4th District, Westerman was leading Randy Caldwell, 81%-19% and next faces Democrat Hayden Shamel and Libertarian Tom Canada. Westerman had more than $904,000 on hand as of May 2 after raising more than $1.1 million for the campaign. Shamel has more than $21,000 cash on hand after raising almost $65,000. Canada had not submitted any financial data.

Steve Brawner is a freelance journalist and contributor to Talk Business & Politics.