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Wins, losses in Arkansas political, judicial campaigns

Daniel Breen
Campaign signs dot the landscape outside a polling place in Little Rock's John Barrow neighborhood on Tuesday.

While the races for governor, senate and various other state and national offices got most of the attention in Tuesday’s primary election, several other Arkansas candidates also emerged victorious.

Lieutenant Governor
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge beat out five other candidates to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Rutledge garnered about 54% of the vote against her challengers. State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway, came in a distant second place with about 14% of the vote, with state Surgeon General Dr. Greg Bledsoe getting just under 10% support. Rutledge, who originally challenged Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the Republican gubernatorial primary, will face Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Kelly Krout in November.

U.S. House of Representatives
Three Republicans representing Arkansas in Congress emerged victorious against their primary challengers last night. Central Arkansas U.S. Rep. French Hill beat out his primary challenger Conrad Reynolds, avoiding a runoff with about 59% of the vote. He’ll face Democrat Quintessa Hathaway in November. In eastern Arkansas, incumbent Republican Congressman Rick Crawford thwarted two primary challengers. And northwest Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack easily beat challenger Neil Robinson Kumar, who garnered criticism during the race for promoting racist conspiracy theories. Arkansas’ fourth U.S. Congressman, Bruce Westerman, did not face a Republican primary challenger.

Secretary of State
Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston fended off his primary challenger for the Republican nomination in his re-election bid. Thurston garnered 72% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, while his challenger, former state lawmaker Eddie Joe Williams, got roughly 28% support. Thurston in November will face Democratic secretary of state candidate Anna Beth Gorman, who edged out former Pulaski County Election Commissioner Josh Price for that party’s nomination. The secretary of state oversees elections in Arkansas, as well as business registrations and the grounds of the State Capitol building.

Voters have chosen a Republican state lawmaker as that party’s nominee in the race for Arkansas Treasurer. Rep. Mark Lowery of Maumelle on Tuesday got about three-fourths of the vote over his primary challenger, state Sen. Mathew Pitsch of Fort Smith. Lowery has drawn criticism during his campaign over past bankruptcies and for failing to file campaign finance disclosures on time. He will face Democrat Pam Whitaker in the November general election.

Attorney General
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin will face Democrat Jesse Gibson in the general election for Arkansas attorney general. Results of Tuesday’s Republican primary show Griffin secured 85% of the vote compared to about 14% for challenger Leon Jones, Jr. Jones is the brother of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Jones.

Griffin originally sought the Republican nomination for governor, but dropped out of that race after eventual winner Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her candidacy. Incumbent Attorney General Leslie Rutledge also sought to challenge Sanders, and now appears poised to succeed Griffin as the state’s next lieutenant governor.

Nonpartisan Judicial Races
Perhaps the closest race of election night wasn't for governor or a seat in Congress, but rather for a position on the state’s Court of Appeals. Unofficial results show Wendy Wood ultimately beat Judge Stephanie Casady by the slimmest of margins, with Wood avoiding a runoff by about 900 votes.

The races for two circuit judge positions in central Arkansas weren’t quite as close, with candidates LaTonya Austin Honorable and Cara Connors edging out their respective challengers Ernest Sanders and Brenda Stallings. Unofficial results show Will Jones with the lead over Alicia Walton in the race for sixth judicial district prosecuting attorney, which covers Pulaski and Perry counties. And in northwest Arkansas, progressive candidate Stephen Coger lost his bid challenging the incumbent Washington County prosecutor Matt Durrett.

In the race for a seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court, Justice Karen Baker successfully won re-election, but fellow Justice Robin Wynne failed to get over 50% of the vote and will now face second-place challenger Judge Chris Carnahan in November.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.