Arkansas Elections

All four candidates in the Democratic Primary for central Arkansas's U.S. House seat are seeking to make improvements on the Affordable Care Act. Early voting is underway in the race between Clarke Tucker, Paul Spencer, Jonathan Dunkley, Gwen Combs, and Clarke Tucker. Election Day is May 22nd.

Take a listen to the full report in the audio link above. Individual interviews are below.

Clarke Tucker

Paul Spencer

Jonathan Dunkley

Gwen Combs

There's a four person race to win the Democratic Party nomination to run against U.S. Representative French Hill in Novemeber. Take a listen to KUAR's interviews about the economy with Jonathan Dunkley, Gwen Combs, Clarke Tucker, and Paul Spencer. Early voting is underway, Election Day is May 22nd.

Jonathan Dunkley

Gwen Combs

Clarke Tucker

Paul Spencer

votetrevordrown.com/votejohnthurston.com

Of the many possible shake-ups following the May 22 primary election, one is for Secretary of State. Two Republicans are facing off to replace term-limited incumbent Mark Martin.

State Rep. Trevor Drown and Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston are seeking to be their party’s choice to face Democrat Susan Inman and Libertarian Chris Olson in the November general election.

Facebook/Arkansas Secretary of State/Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

There’s one seat up for grabs on the Arkansas’s highest court, and it belongs to Justice Courtney Goodson.

She’s seeking another eight-year term, and has two challengers in the nonpartisan judicial election: state Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson, and Department of Human Services Chief Counsel David Sterling.

And while all three say they want to focus on the issues, a bigger story has loomed large over the race. Both Goodson and Hixson have been the subject of T-V and online ads from dark money groups; ones that don’t have to disclose their donors.

File photo. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R).
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge was expected to testify Friday morning in a lawsuit accusing her of obstructing ballot initiatives in her role of approving the language of items being placed on the ballot. But as the hearing was getting underway, it was announced that the trail was being moved from state court to federal court.

It comes just days after Pulaski County Circuit Judge Griffen issued a strongly worded opinion ordering Mr. Rutledge to testify and not allowing her to defer it to a lower level staffer.

There are two candidates for governor on the Democratic primary ballot. Both are political newcomers with different backgrounds, levels of political backing, and degrees of adherence to Democratic Party norms. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman has this report. Election Day is Tuesday, May 22nd.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is expected to appear in court Friday before Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen. She’s being sued by Alex Gray, a lawyer representing two ballot measure groups, who says she’s not letting the state’s voter-initiated referendum process work.

“Our claim is that the specific subsection the attorney general is using to reject what is now 70 of 70 proposed ballot measures, that provision is unconstitutional,” Gray says.

Actually, another subsection of Article 5, Section 1 of the state constitution — subsection B — allows for the attorney general to rewrite ballot language in anticipation of certification. Rutledge has not done that, Gray alleges in the suit.

The May 22nd Democratic primary ballot features the deciding race for Pulaski County Sheriff. The winner will be unopposed in the November general election. KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman reports on the contest between Carl Minden and Eric Higgins. Sheriff Doc Holladay is not running for re-election.

Take a listen to the audio link above for the full story. 

Leslie Rutledge Attorney General
Talk Business & Politics

A judge is denying a request by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to quash a subpoena calling her to testify in a lawsuit.

A group that has been rejected in its efforts to get language for a ballot initiative approved by the AG’s office argued that Rutledge "has acted in bad faith" and is abusing her power. The Committee to Restore Arkansas’ Rights wants to change the sovereign immunity provision in the state constitution.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jared Henderson is out with his first television commercial. It strikes a positive tone and doesn’t mention his primary opponent, Leticia Sanders or Governor Asa Hutchinson. His campaign says it'll be the only TV spot of the primary.

KATV

In an unexpected announcement, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola said he will not seek a fourth term. In an e-mail released on Tuesday morning, Stodola said he'll step aside at the completion of his term because an immediate family member received a serious medical diagnosis.

Stodola issued a letter to the denizens of the Capitol city.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CITIZENS OF LITTLE ROCK

Early Voting Begins In Arkansas

May 7, 2018
Election vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Early voting begins today for the May 22nd primaries and nonpartisan judicial election. Early voting runs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Voters can choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot but not both, regardless of political party affiliation. Voters also can get a nonpartisan judicial ballot, independent of or in addition to a party primary ballot.

The nonpartisan judicial races include the contest for Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice between David Sterling, Courtney Goodson, and Kenneth Hixson.

Second Congressional District candidate Clarke Tucker is out with his second television ad in as many weeks. Tucker is in a four-person Democratic primary contest along with Jonathan Dunkley, Paul Spencer, and Gwen Combs. His campaign fundraising totals have eclipsed the rest of the field's combined total.

The new ad takes up a centrist issue and tone, in a primary race typified by candidates embracing the term progressive. The ad focuses on employment for veterans and portrays Tucker as a bi-partisan leader saying, "In Congress, I'll work with anyone." 

election voter ID vote
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas' highest court says the state can enforce a voter ID law in the May 22 primary despite a judge declaring the measure unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court decision Wednesday overruled a Pulaski County judge who had blocked the law's enforcement. The primary is on May 22, and early voting begins Monday.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray ruled the law was unconstitutional on April 26, and issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state's enforcement of the law less than a month before primary elections. 

A Washington-based group is preparing to launch television ads targeting Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson in her re-election bid, two years after it spent more than $600,000 on spots aimed at Goodson during her unsuccessful campaign to lead the high court.

Filings with the Federal Communications Commission indicate that the Judicial Crisis Network has spent more than $96,000 to air ads in the Little Rock and northwest Arkansas areas over the next week. A filing from one station says the ads focused on criticism of Goodson.

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

With early voting for primary elections set to begin May 7, the four Democrats seeking to run against Republican incumbent French Hill for Arkansas’s 2nd District U.S. Congressional seat gathered for their second debate Monday.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, incumbent Asa Hutchinson has secured an endorsement from Arkansas Right to Life. In a statement, Hutchinson praised the group and touted lengthening waiting periods for women to get an abortion, parental consent laws, and blocking Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood.

Voter ID Vote photo ID
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Arkansas officials are appealing a judge's order blocking the state from enforcing a voter ID law nearly identical to a measure struck down as unconstitutional four years ago.

Almost all the action in Democratic state House primaries next month is taking place in central Arkansas. The seat for House District 33 is open after a high profile incumbent, Warwick Sabin, announced he is exploring a run for mayor.

The primary election is between Tippi McCullough and Ross Noland. The primary winner faces no opposition in the November general election.

Take a listen to the audio link above to hear the candidates thoughts about education, UAMS, public safety, and legislative leadership.

Arkansas's highest court has rejected an effort to force the state's attorney general to approve the wording of a ballot measure that would legalize casinos in four counties.

The state Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition by Driving Arkansas Forward, the group trying to put the casinos legalization measure on the ballot in November.

Gwen Combs at the Women's March for Arkansas in January 2017.
Combs Campaign.

Gwen Combs, one of four Democratic candidates in the 2nd Congressional District primary, has secured an endorsement from the National Organization for Women. NOW describes itself as the “largest organization of feminist grassroots activists in the United States.”

In a statement to the Combs’ campaign, the president of the Arkansas NOW chapter said, "Since 1966, NOW has worked to empower women at work, at home, under the law, in health choices and as equal citizens. Gwen's steadfast leadership demonstrates that she will prioritize full equality for women and girls if elected."

Leslie Rutledge
Governor's Office

A group seeking a public vote on expanded gambling in Arkansas is asking the state Supreme Court to force Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to approve and certify the ballot title.

The group Driving Arkansas Forward filed a petition Tuesday with the state's high court.

Driving Arkansas Forward is trying to put a proposal on the November ballot to legalize casinos in Jefferson and Pope counties, as well as at the Oaklawn horse track in Hot Springs and at the Southland greyhound track in West Memphis.

Doyle Webb
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Will Arkansas see the impact of a Democratic blue wave in this year’s elections? The chairs of the Democratic and Republican parties of Arkansas walked through their electoral ambitions this cycle, at Thursday’s meeting of the Political Animals Club.

Doyle Webb, the head of the state’s Republican Party, said he doesn’t see much cause to worry about a so-called negative “Trump effect.”

Second Congressional District candidate Clarke Tucker (D).
clarketucker.com

A frontrunner has emerged – at least in financial backing – in the four-person U.S. Second Congressional District Democratic primary. Clarke Tucker’s campaign reported a first quarter fundraising total of over a half-million dollars, ending the period with $440,000 cash on hand. Republican incumbent French Hill has $1.3-million cash on hand. Tucker’s only been running since February 5th.

The four-person Democratic primary field for central Arkansas’s 2nd District U.S. House seat held a debate Wednesday evening and agreed on most of the issues. Jonathan Dunkley, Clarke Tucker, Gwen Combs, and Paul Spencer all shared the stage for the debate hosted by KATV and Talk Business and Politics. 

Check out the audio link above for a recap of the debate and click here to watch the full debate.

One of the founders of the Indivisible movement says Arkansas Democrats did a fair job of candidate recruitment compared to an anemic 2016 slate but the state party didn’t stack up as well it should have. The candidate filing period closed last week for Arkansas elections.

Listen to the full interview in the link posted above.

Co-author of the Indivisible Guide, Billy Fleming told KUAR it’s good that Democrats are running in every Congressional race and in 57 legislative seats (49 in 2016) but it pales compared to other states.

Mass shootings in schools, concerts, and even army bases are a familiar specter in the United States of America over the last decade or so and there is a lot of daylight between how a Democrat and a Republican 2nd District Congressman would address it.

KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman asks the faces – some old and some new - hoping to represent central Arkansas in the U.S. House after November’s election, what do they plan to do about guns and mass shootings.

Libertarian Mark West Enters Arkansas Governor's Race

Feb 26, 2018
Libertarian candidate for governor Mark West.
KATV

Mark West is throwing his hat in the ring for the race for Arkansas governor. The pastor and business manager out of Batesville filed to run on Monday after being nominated over the weekend at the Libertarian Party of Arkansas’s convention in Little Rock. The governor’s office tops the Libertarian ballot for a number of reasons. Notably, the party’s gubernatorial or presidential candidate has to get three-percent of the vote if it is to retain ballot access in the next election. For the past four election cycles its fallen short of that threshold and had to petition its way on the ballot.

Arkansas Department of Transportation.

Frank Scott Jr., who has formed an exploratory committee to run for mayor of Little Rock, has filed a counter claim against an effort backed by Mayor Mark Stodola to stop Scott from raising funds. The city has filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court to stop Scott and Warwick Sabin from raising money with exploratory committees.

A city ordinance bars campaign fundraising until June 1st. But the Arkansas Ethics Commission has said exploratory committees are allowed. Scott suggests Mayor Stodola is trying to control the election process.

littlerock.gov

Both potential electoral challengers to Mayor Mark Stodola are firing back this week against a city-backed lawsuit to stop them from raising money through exploratory committees. Warwick Sabin moved on Tuesday (here and here) to dismiss the city’s suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

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