Okay, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends tonight. Here is your late night primary round up. If I have to correct any info, I’ll do it when I drag myself out of bed.
Presidential Race: Barack Obama won his primary in Arkansas with just over 58 percent of the vote last night, with some guy John Wolfe winning over 40 percent of the vote. In some ways, this is not surprising. Obama has never been popular in Arkansas and in the open Democratic primary there were bound to be plenty of people who voted for the man who’s name sounded white. However, I’m going to have a nice little map that shows how this one played out that actually points to a surprising reason for these results that has nothing to do with race, partisanship, or ideology. More on that when I can do a better job keeping my eyes open. Trust me, you’ll want to see it. That all said, tonight was not a resounding victory for Mitt Romney either who, despite having seen his rivals for the nomination step aside, still saw them collectively take home a little less than 30 percent of the vote. Turnout this year in Arkansas is going to be very low as neither presidential candidate has much appeal here. Romney will no doubt carry the state by virtue of his skin color, but sadly, we’ve been expecting that for quite some time.
AR-01: The biggest surprise of the night came in AR-01 where Scott Ellington nearly won without a runoff. (At time of writing, looks like he just barely missed that luxury by a fraction of a hair.) Ellington was outspent and never even put up an ad, but still outperformed the competition dramatically. This is a HUGE and humiliating blow to Clark Hall, the Blue Dog candidate, who wrapped up the endorsements, had a huge chunk of cash, was endorsed by the Blue Dog Caucus, and was the only candidate to hit the airwaves. Clearly, it seems we at Blue Arkansas weren’t the only ones who found his candidacy and coronation wholly unappealing. Ellington was strongest in the northern part of the district, which both has the largest percentage of the population in the district and is the area that tends to be more willing to vote in Republicans which gives Ellington the added bonus of being able to make an electability argument in the runoff. The fact that he did it while spending less cash, without a tv ad, and after just being in the race a few short months makes his argument even stronger.
AR-04: The other big surprise of the night was State Senator Gene Jeffress who, after being the invisible man in this campaign, managed to finish first ahead of Q. Byrum Hurst. It’s frankly bewildering that there is still a place in this country where this kind of campaign can be run, but here it is. Still, whoever wins this is going to have to run a top notch general election campaign as Republican Tom Cotton was able to buy his primary with tons of out of state cash and will try to do so in the general as well.
Looking down ballot at the state senate and house races…
SD-07: After a fierce battle, time travel enthusiast Jon Woods did us all a favor and ended the career of the odious Bill Pritchard. The race was a bitter one and Republicans may well be divided headed into this election against our dynamic candidate, Diana Gonzales Worthen. This race is a long shot, but could be one to watch if Worthen runs a good campaign.
SD-09: Bruce “Fireball” Holland raced past his primary opposition at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, presumably while claiming he was trying to get to the legislature…legitimately in this case. He’s damaged goods going up against top notch Dem Tracy Pennartz, but he’ll bring a ton of Koch brother cash with him to the general.
SD-11: Our endorsed candidate, Sen. Steve Harrelson, fended back his primary challenge. Congrats Senator Harrelson! Dems had better be ready to spend some major cash on this race. It could be key to keeping the state senate, and no one wants to lose Steve Harrelson.
SD-15: Republicans did Democrats another favor and served us up another candidate who should be easier to beat than his vanquished primary opponent. State Rep. David Sanders was a total joke last session, only showing interest in silly bills like changing the state’s nickname and working on things that involve football. He was also one of the most extreme Republicans in the legislature and is a new comer to this district. This district was already tailor made for former State Rep. Johnny Hoyt and it looks like it may be even likely to go his way now.
SD-31: Easily the best news of the night for me, Joyce Elliott absolutely CRUSHED corporate pawn Fred Allen. Way to go Joyce! Fred Allen ruined his political career by doing this, and Joyce cemented herself into four more years in the legislature. The folks at the D-G can suck it.
HD-26: Not a race we’ve weighed in on yet but definitely one to watch. David Kizzia, the city attorney from Malvern, won a tremendous victory in his primary for the right to take on the legislature’s resident white supremacist, Loy Mauch. Kizzia is going to be a strong candidate, and there really needs to be a strong effort made here, just on principle. Having someone who represents what Mauch does in the legislature should be a disgrace to all Arkansans-Democrat, Independent, and even for the Republicans.
HD-33: Our endorsed candidate, Warwick Sabin, cruised to an easy victory over his primary opponent, Mark Robertson. Robertson made himself few friends in the end, claiming the endorsement of the ever popular Kathy Webb when he didn’t have it, prompting Webb to both endorse Warwick and come to his defense when Robertson put out a misleading mailer attacking him. This district is safely democratic with no Republican stupid enough to run here, so Warwick is guaranteed a seat in the legislature and is bound to be a rising star there. Congrats Warwick!
HD-37: This race was, for me, the only disappointment of the night. Our endorsed candidate, Phynaus Wilson, lost badly in his house campaign. I really have no idea what went wrong with this one-I was there working on the ground with Phynaus not three days before the election and would have sworn he had it. It’s a puzzle, to be sure, but I doubt this will be the last we hear from him.
HD-52: Friend of the blog LJ Bryant won a handy victory in this NEA seat. Had LJ lost it would have been his third in three straight cycles and his political career would have been over before he was even my age. The third time was the charm though, and I suspect we’ll be seeing him in Arkansas politics for many years to come.
HD-70: David Meeks cruised to victory over Price Dooley in the GOP primary. No surprise here-Republicans do not like a black man pointing out how corrupt they are, even if it’s one in their own party and the charges are 100 percent accurate.
HD-81: Justin Harris won his primary for Ayatollah.
HD-85: Our endorsed candidate David Whitaker cruised to an easy victory over his opponent, Maylon Rice. Whitaker looks to be a leader and a bold progressive in the state house, but we have to make sure we beat back the Republicans and hold this seat. Mercifully, this is David Whitaker 2.0 we’re talking about here. This campaign was nothing like the one he ran for Congress, with an aggressive ground game and a candidate not known for being able to fire up a crowd sounding a bit like a general rallying the troops from time to time. Congrats David-don’t stop fighting yet!
I think that about sums it up for the night. I am whooped, so I’m heading for bed. Wake me when the sun goes down…