In the final stretch before polls close in Arkansas for the 2020 election, the candidates for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District race are making their final appeals to voters across the district.
Arkansas State Senator Joyce Elliott, the Democratic candidate running to unseat incumbent Congressman French Hill, a Republican, called today a "tiebreaking day" and is visiting polling places throughout the district.
"Just talking to people and reminding them…what’s at stake here and that it’s in their hands to make sure that we break this tie in a way that’s going to benefit the people," Elliott said.
According to the latest polls, less than one-point separates Elliott and Hill, making the race for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District the closest in the state and the Democrats’ best change to flip a House seat in Arkansas.
Elliott says if elected, the first thing she would focus on as a congresswoman is the coronavirus pandemic.
"We’re going to have to look at, you know, what do we do for relief for the people and for this country as we start to rebuild. We have to be massively concerned about what we do for families and what we do for folks that are not on Wall Street because too much of the money that was appropriated before went to the people on Wall Street," Elliott said.
If elected, Elliott would be the first Black woman to represent an Arkansas district in the U.S. House of Representatives. As far as her thoughts on the campaign on its final day, Elliott reflected on the gains the campaign made in closing the polling gap to essentially a tie.
"It just reminds me that my whole life has been about, in a lot of ways, facing barriers and working against barriers. And for me, knowing it was going to be difficult was not a reason not to run. You just get in and you work harder or you work smarter, but you do what you need to do," Elliott said.
According to Trent Minner, campaign manager for the Hill campaign, in addition to volunteers out across the district at polling places and busy intersections stumping for Hill, the candidate himself visited voting sites throughout the day. Minner says the campaign feels good about eventual outcome.
"The early votes and trends that we’re seeing as well as our conversations with voters across the district, we feel positive about the outcome tonight," Minner said.
Despite the close race, Minner says the campaigns’ strategy didn’t drastically change.
"With this campaign and with the congressman’s previous campaigns…the campaign has been about his record of service to the constituents in the 2nd Congressional District. The projects he’s worked on, the legislation that has been directed at benefiting the people in this district as well as his record of constituent service," Minner said.
With the matter of campaigning in the middle of a pandemic, Minner says the process has been different and at times challenging.
"We feel like it’s been important to actively be reaching out to voters and carry on the best we can while adhering to the COVID guidelines that have been given to all of us," Minner said. "So for us that’s meant utilizing text messages, especially the last few weeks, phone banking, emails to supporters, being active on social media and having a digital presence to be able to reach voters with our message that way and to hear the concerns of the congressman’s constituents."
As far as what issues Hill will focus on if reelected, Minner said the COVID-19 pandemic will be one, with Hill looking at both the public health and the economic issues that stem from it.
Polls close in Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. You can find information on your voter registration status and find your local polling place at the Arkansas Secretary of State's website.