LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansans cast their ballots Tuesday in the state’s primary elections, voting on races covering federal, state and local offices.
Rainy weather throughout the state did not seem to keep many from the polls. Officials in Washington County in northwest Arkansas some voters were in the dark late in the afternoon due to a power outage.
Many did not wait until Tuesday, with the state seeing more than 207,000 early votes cast by the end of Monday.
Among the top races being tracked by voters and pundits alike are the primaries in the races for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate.
Governor’s race set to make history
The race to replace Gov. Asa Hutchinson is set to make history, with the winners of both major party primaries representing people who have never held the office.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders took the Republican nomination, cruising to an expected victory over Francis “Doc” Washburn. The former White House press secretary has broken records in fundraising and has a deep bench of big-name GOP endorsements, and a win for the former Arkansas first daughter would make her the first woman to be governor.
Chris Jones prevailed on the Democratic side, coming out of a field of five with a dominant win. Jones, a minister and non-profit leader, would be the first Black man to serve in the governor’s office.
Sanders and Jones will square off in the general election with Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr., who ran unopposed in the primary and could also be the state’s first Black governor.
Boozman fights through tough primary
Sen. John Boozman will head on to November after taking the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate. The two-term incumbent held off challengers from the right, including newcomer Jake Bequette, on his way to clean victory.
The race for the Senate nomination on the Democratic side was called just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, with Little Rock small business owner Natalie James riding her solid majority lead to a win. Kenneth Cates ran unopposed for the Libertarian nod.
Rutledge emerges from crowded GOP field for lieutenant governor
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is closer to breaking another glass ceiling in state government. The first woman to serve as AG in Arkansas beat five other Republicans for the party nomination in the lieutenant governor’s contest and be the first woman in that seat.
She will head into November facing Democrat Kelly Krout and Libertarian Frank Gilbert, neither of whom faced an opponent on Tuesday.
In other races around the state, the three Republican incumbents U.S. House members who were facing primary challenges all prevailed, with only 2nd District Rep. French Hill’s race being remotely close.
Current Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin cruised to a victory in the GOP primary in the race for state attorney general. Little Rock attorney Jesse Gibson ran unopposed for the Democratic nod.
Incumbent Secretary of State John Thurston handily won the Republican nomination for his current office. He will take on Anna Beth Gorman, who won the Democratic race by more than 15 percent. In the GOP state treasurer race, current treasurer Mark Lowery won easily and will go up against Democrat Pam Whitaker, who ran unopposed.
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