Arkansas Politics

Arkansas Secretary of State

As the nation turned its attention to New Hampshire’s primary, voters in Arkansas were perfectly split between the two candidates in a Democratic runoff election for a vacant seat in the state House of Representatives.

Unofficial results show Joy Springer and Ryan Davis each received 372 votes in Tuesday’s runoff for House District 34, which encompasses parts of east, central and west Little Rock. The seat has been vacant since the death of longtime Democratic State Rep. John Walker in October 2019.

Pulaski County Election Commissioner Joshua Price said, as far as anyone can recall, this hasn’t happened before.

Just four percentage points separates first place from fourth place in a new survey of likely Democratic primary voters in Arkansas.

The latest Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College Poll asked 496 likely Democratic primary voters statewide for their preference in the March 3rd Presidential primary. The poll, conducted on Feb. 6-7, 2020, has a margin of error of +/-4.3%.

Frank Scott Jr.
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. is backing Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. Scott, who is one year into office, announced his endorsement Monday and praised Bloomberg's commitment to spread opportunity to Americans who are being shortchanged by the current economy.

Frederick Love Fred
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

With less than a month before Arkansas Democrats vote in the presidential primary, the state is getting more attention from the candidates’ campaigns. Arkansas is one of 14 states that will be taking part in Super Tuesday on March 3, with early voting to begin Feb. 18.

Former Arkansas governor and senator David Pryor and his son, former senator Mark Pryor, are supporting Joe Biden's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The former vice president's campaign announced the endorsements from the Pryors on Tuesday.

Arkansas is holding its primary on March 3 along with more than a dozen other states.

David Pryor served as Arkansas governor from 1975 to 1979 and went on to serve three terms in the U.S. Senate. Mark Pryor served two terms in the Senate before losing re-election in 2014.

As the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump gets underway in the U.S. Senate, Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas said he and his colleagues recognize the gravity of the situation. The Republican also said he wouldn’t be surprised if the chamber eventually votes to allow witnesses to testify

The state’s senior senator spoke with KUAR News about the impeachment trial, sharing his thoughts and expectations.

MICHAEL HIBBLEN: First off, how do you feel as this begins given everything that has happened leading up to this in the House and now coming to the Senate?

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg returned to Arkansas Monday, the second time he has visited the state since announcing he was running for the nation's highest office. The former New York City mayor walked near the front of Little Rock’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, surrounded by supporters wearing "I Like Mike" shirts and waving signs.

Picture of a tractor on a farm
Creative Commons

A “Phase 1” trade deal was signed Wednesday by President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He that reduces some tariffs between the countries and seeks to boost U.S. agri exports to China. Critics say the deal avoids the hard trade issues between the two countries.

Following are some of the items in the newly signed deal.

Rusty Cranford
Arkansas Nonprofit News Network

A lobbyist who pleaded guilty to bribing three former Arkansas state lawmakers, including the governor's nephew, has been sentenced to seven years in prison without parole.

Rusty Cranford was sentenced in federal court Monday for bribing Republican state Sen. Jon Woods, Democratic state Rep. Hank Wilkins and Republican state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson. Prosecutors say Cranford paid the bribes to benefit the Missouri-based nonprofit Preferred Family HealthCare, whose former executives also face charges.

Michael John Gray
Daniel Breen / KUAR News

A former U.S. Senate candidate's silence on why he dropped out is making a Democratic presence in the Arkansas race unlikely. Speaking with reporters at party headquarters Monday, state Democratic Party Chair Michael John Gray voiced his disappointment.

"There are emotions all across the range of them of the frustration that at this point it does not look like there will be a Democratic candidate on the ballot," Gray said.

A former lobbyist who pleaded guilty as part of a corruption investigation that ensnared several Arkansas state lawmakers is to be sentenced Monday. Rusty Cranford could face up to 10 years in federal prison, but his defense attorney says Cranford’s cooperation with investigators should weigh heavily with the judge.

Since pleading guilty to a federal bribery charge in June 2018, Cranford has repeatedly met with investigators and appeared before federal grand juries.

Issue 1 Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

With less than a year until the November 2020 election, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and stakeholders for better roads officially launched their campaign for Issue 1, a permanent extension of a half-cent sales tax that is set to expire in 2022.

On Friday, Hutchinson kicked off the “Vote for Roads. Vote for Issue 1” campaign. Issue 1, referred by legislators to voters would extend the half-cent sales tax for roads in perpetuity when it expires in 2022.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., could likely run for a second term without having to face a Democratic challenger, but officials with the state Democratic Party disagree.

Cotton, who has served in the Senate since 2015, originally faced Democratic challenger Josh Mahony of Fayetteville. Mahony, who ran unsuccessfully against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Womack in 2018, announced he was dropping out of the Senate race Tuesday. His announcement came roughly two hours after the campaign filing period ended.

Kelly Connelly / KUAR News

An Arkansas state legislator announced a bid Tuesday to unseat a Republican congressman in 2020 as the filing period for next year's election came to a close.

Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott is the only Democrat who filed to run against Republican Rep. French Hill, who was first elected to the 2nd Congressional District in 2014.

Elliott said she believes the district, which includes Little Rock, could be competitive for Democrats.

Michael Bloomberg
Kelly Connelly / KUAR News

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has not officially announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for United States president, but on Tuesday he visited the Arkansas state Capitol to file paperwork to have his name appear on the ballot.

"It doesn’t mean we’re going to run, but we do have to make sure we’re on the ballot if we do run," Bloomberg said. Talking with reporters, Bloomberg said he will support the Democratic nominee regardless of whether he decides to run.

Rick Crawford
Talk Business & Politics

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said he is “voluntarily” giving up his seat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in preparation for next week’s impeachment hearings. Crawford characterized the substitution as a “temporary resignation.”

The House is preparing for open hearings from witnesses as part of the impeachment inquiry formally opened last week in a partisan vote of 232-196. House Democrats have put forward a plan and guidelines for the process of the Congressional inquiry.

Rep. French Hill
Julia Kraus / KUAR News

Scores of political candidates filed for office on Monday (Nov. 4) at the Arkansas capitol as the week-long filing period officially opened for federal and state races. Among the high-profile races on next year’s ballot are a March 3, 2020, Presidential primary, statewide races for the U.S. Senate and Arkansas Supreme Court, and 117 legislative seats in the Arkansas House and Senate.

Arkansas Capitol
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Over the next week we’ll learn who will be running for political office in Arkansas during the 2020 elections. The candidate filing period begins Monday at 12 p.m. in the state Capitol Rotunda, running through Tuesday of next week.

Among the races to be decided next year are all four of the state's representatives in the U.S. House, as well as Sen. Tom Cotton’s seat. In the Arkansas legislature, 17 seats in the Senate will be decided along with all 100 members of the House.

Sarah Kellogg - KUAR News / KUAR

A shift in the population across Arkansas will likely result in political gains for the northwest region of the state and a loss for the southeast in the Arkansas legislature as well as restructure Arkansas’s U.S. Congressional Districts.

During a meeting of the Political Animal’s Club on Wednesday, Jamie Gates, Executive Vice-President of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, outlined the population gains and losses predicted for the upcoming 2020 state redistricting.

Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As President Donald Trump’s administration blocked a U.S. diplomat from testifying in the impeachment investigation regarding Ukraine, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated Tuesday that there are "legitimate questions that have been asked based upon a whistleblower’s complaint."

Hutchinson served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s and was one of the Republican impeachment managers who led the investigation of President Bill Clinton.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

The Arkansas House will meet next month to consider whether to remove a lawmaker who pleaded no contest to not paying state income taxes.

House officials announced Tuesday the chamber will meet Oct. 11 on the resolution calling for removal of Republican Rep. Mickey Gates. He was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017.

As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Gates in July pleaded no contest to one count of not filing or paying income taxes. He was ordered to serve six months' probation and repay Arkansas.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

Arkansas' House speaker has taken the first step toward removing a lawmaker who pleaded no contest to not paying state income taxes and who has refused to step down.

Speaker Matthew Shepherd on Friday filed a resolution to remove fellow Republican Rep. Mickey Gates, who was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017. As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, Gates in July pleaded no contest to one count of not filing or paying income taxes.

Jason Rapert Ten 10 Commandments
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

A federal judge is temporarily restricting who can see the video deposition of a legislator who sponsored a measure requiring a Ten Commandments statue at the Arkansas Capitol in a lawsuit challenging the monument.

U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a temporary order Wednesday preventing additional copies of state Sen. Jason Rapert's deposition from being made or distributed. An attorney for Rapert, a Republican who sponsored the 2015 law requiring the privately funded monument, had asked that the video only be available to attorneys in the case.

Rep. Mickey Gates
www.arkansashouse.org

Arkansas Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd on Friday said he is taking the rare action to remove a colleague from a House seat.

Shepherd, R-El Dorado, wrote a letter to House members explaining that he intends to put forth a resolution calling for the “immediate removal” of Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, from the chamber. Gates pleaded last month no contest to not paying state income taxes and worked out an agreement to pay part of what he owed.

Senator John Boozman
George Jared / Talk Business & Politics

Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas is cosponsoring legislation that attempts to address a shortage of physicians. Medical school graduates are required to complete residency training to begin practicing, but Boozman says a 1997 cap on Medicare funding has led to a shortage of available residencies in the state.

"We have a situation where we have a lot of people graduating from medical school and then can’t find residencies in Arkansas. So as a result, probably 40 percent of them go out of state. Many of them never come back," Boozman said.

Jake Files
Arkansas Times

A federal judge has denied a former Arkansas state senator's request to be released from a federal prison in Oklahoma where he has served just more than one year of an 18-month prison term for fraud and money laundering.

Republican Jake Files of Fort Smith filed the request last Friday, one year after reporting to the prison in El Reno, Oklahoma, to serve his sentence .

Daniel Breen / KUAR News

With just one week until Election Day, the five democratic candidates running to represent District 36 in the Arkansas House of Representatives spoke with voters at the final forum before the election.

Russell Williams, III, Roderick Talley, Denise Ennett, Philip Hood and Darrell Stephens spoke at Philander Smith College Tuesday evening in the forum sponsored by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and the Social Justice Institute.

Russell Williams, III

Five Democratic candidates are seeking to replace former state Rep. Charles Blake in representing House District 36, which stretches southeast from downtown along the Arkansas River.

Blake resigned in May to serve as chief of staff for Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. Voters can choose a candidate at a special election on Aug. 6.

KUAR sat down with each of the candidates, and asked the same questions on what they felt were their main issues in the district, and what their plans were for the legislature.

Philip Hood

Five Democratic candidates are seeking to replace former state Rep. Charles Blake in representing House District 36, which stretches southeast from downtown along the Arkansas River.

Blake resigned in May to serve as chief of staff for Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. Voters can choose a candidate at a special election on Aug. 6.

KUAR sat down with each of the candidates and asked the same questions on what they felt were the main issues in the district, and what their plans were for the legislature. 

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Five Democratic candidates are seeking to replace former state Rep. Charles Blake in representing House District 36, which stretches southeast from downtown along the Arkansas River.

Blake resigned in May to serve as chief of staff for Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. Voters can choose a candidate at a special election on Aug. 6.

KUAR sat down with each of the candidates, and asked the same questions on what they felt were their main issues in the district, and what their plans were for the legislature.

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