Friday, May 16, 2014

TOP STORY >> Primary voting on Tuesday

Leader senior staff writer

In Tuesday’s statewide races, Lynette (Doc) Bryant will face Mike Ross in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, while Curtis Coleman and Asa Hutchinson compete for the Republican nomination.

Most pundits expect Ross to face Hutchinson in November to succeed Gov. Mike Beebe.

Three Republicans are competing to run against Democrat John Burkhalter for lieutenant governor in November. Second Dist. Congressman Tim Griffin faces state representatives Debra Hobbs and Andy Mayberry in that primary.

For state attorney general, Republicans Patricia Nation, Leslie Rutledge and David Sterling are competing in the primary. The winner faces state Rep. Nate Steel, a Democrat.

For state treasurer, to replace disgraced Martha Schoffner, convicted on 14 counts of bribery, state Rep. Duncan Baird and Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan, both Republicans, square off with the winner to face Karen Sealy Garcia, a Democrat, in November.

Rep. Andrea Lea faces Ken Yang, seeking the Republican nomination for state auditor. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Regina Steward Hampton.

With Griffin giving up his Second District Congressional District seat, three Republicans are seeking the nomination to face Democrat Patrick Henry Hayes, former North Little Rock mayor, in November. They are Col. Conrad Reynolds, French Hill and state Rep. Ann Clemmer.


Lonoke County voters will have plenty of decisions to make in the Tuesday primary.

Lonoke County Sheriff John Staley faces former Sheriff Jim Roberson and former Deputy Steve Finch on Tuesday in a winner-takes-all Republican primary. Whoever wins that race — or the runoff if necessary — faces no challenger in November.

Any primary runoff elections this year will be held June 10, according to the secretary of state’s election calendar.

Cabot Republicans are also assured of holding onto the House Dist. 43 seat currently occupied by House Speaker Davy Carter. Darlene Byrd, a nurse practitioner, and Tim Lemons, an engineer and member of the Lonoke County Quorum Court, seek to replace Carter, who can’t run again because of term limits.

Carter was perhaps chief architect of Arkansas private option Medicaid expansion, but both Byrd and Lemons said they would not have voted for it. No Democrat filed to run for that seat.

More than 200,000 working poor Arkansans are now covered by the private option or the Affordable Care Act, and hospitals, both locally and nationally, have said they are serving more paying customers and fewer nonpaying ones since Medicaid expansion went into effect on Jan. 1.

It’s unclear what would happen if the new General Assembly refuses to continue the health coverage.

Republicans Trent Eilts and Buddy Fisher are seeking the Dist. 14 House seat currently held by state Rep. Walls McCrary.

McCrary can’t run again because of term limits. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Camille Bennett, the Lonoke city attorney, in November.

Neither is there any Democratic challenger for the winner of the three-person Republican primary in the race for Lonoke County assessor.

Incumbent Jack McNally has been accused by a former assessor’s office employee of being abusive, violating her health privacy rights and of keeping money he collected for the Wounded Warrior Project. McNally is challenged by former Cabot Public Works director Jerrel Maxwell and Marsha Beck, who has worked in the land title business for three decades.

In other Lonoke County primaries, Coroner Mark Thomas, the incumbent, is challenged by Linda Meadows in the primary, with no challenger in November.

Lonoke County Clerk Larry Clarke is challenged by former county clerk Dawn Porterfield in the Republican primary. Porterfield was a Democrat when she held office.

Circuit Clerk Deborah Oglesby is challenged by former circuit clerk Denise Brown in the Republican primary. The winner has no opponent in November.

In the Lonoke County Republican primary, Adam Justice of Lonoke and Gregg Kidd, both of Cabot, seek the JP Dist. 5 seat being vacated by Lemons, and Lee Linville of Austin, the incumbent, faces Jerry Cole of Cabot for the JP Dist. 6 seat. There is no Democratic challenger for the winner of either of those races.

In the JP Dist. 8, however, Democrat John D. Hudspeth Sr. will face the winner of the Republican primary race between Bryson Harpole and Tate House.

Bill Ryker, the JP Dist. 10 incumbent, is challenged by Robert I. Depriest III in the Democratic Primary and in JP Dist. 12, incumbent Justice of the Peace Matt Sanders is challenged by Patricia Ann Knox in the Republican primary.

The winner of those two primaries won’t face a challenger in November.

In the rare partisan city council race, incumbent Jane Derning is challenged by fellow Democrat Fred Ibbotson for the Lonoke City Alderman 1 seat, and Democrat incumbent Efrem Z. Jones is challenged by Phillip M. Ford.

The winner of those two races won’t face opposition in November.

Two constable races in Lonoke County will also be settled May 20 with Election Day being an uncontested formality.

Carlisle Township Constable Ronnie Thrift is being challenged by fellow Republican Greg Renner. Butler Township Constable John Huett Sr. is being challenged by Roger Williams, Jody Webb and Justin McCallister. All are Republicans from Ward.

In the Lonoke Township constable election, incumbent George C. Baily, a Democrat, will face a November challenge from the winner of the Republican primary race between Adam Ingle, Dean White and Steve Morgan.


For the House Dist. 41 seat held by Democrat Jim Nickels, Alan L. Pogue and Karilyn Brown face off in the Republican primary. Nickels is term limited, but the winner of the primary will face Democrat Danny Knight in November.

This is the only primary contest this year specific to north Pulaski County.

In White County, Circuit Clerk Tami King (R-Pangburn) is facing Karen Gossett, a Republican from Searcy.

The winner will be unchallenged on Election Day in November.