Dozens of candidates for office in Arkansas took to the state Capitol on Monday for the start of the 2014 election filing period.
Hopefuls in races for the statehouse, U.S. Congress and the state's constitutional offices were among the candidates who began the formal process of filing as the period opened at noon.
First to file was state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe, R-Rogers, who said she's endured long waits when filing before and wanted to get through quickly as she files for what would be her last term. She got to the Capitol an hour-and-a-half early.
"I've never been first before, so I thought I'd get here early and just be number one," she said.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, was also among the early filers, taking along his 3-year-old son, John, as he made his way through the stations to file for lieutenant governor.
Griffin opted not to run for reelection to Congress, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family. He said he could still do that if elected lieutenant governor, which he defended as an important office and one he'd use to focus on tax policy reform.
"The key in my decision last year was being in Washington so much, being away from my family," Griffin said, his son hugging at his legs. "We are really excited about this because I get the opportunity to continue public service and see my kids grow up in Arkansas."
Former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays also filed within the first half-hour as he seeks the Democratic nomination to succeed Griffin in the 2nd District.
No other Democrats have publicly announced they will seek the nomination. Hays said he wasn't concerned either way.
"Whatever happens happens," he said. "Que sera, sera. It's going to take place, if it does it does, if it doesn't, it doesn't. We're headed toward whatever challenges are in front of us."
Also filing within the first several hours Monday were Asa Hutchinson, who's seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and state House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, who is running for Congress in the 4th District.
LITTLE ROCK — The 2014 election season officially begins Monday as the filing period opens in Arkansas for this year's contests.
Each of the state's seven constitutional offices is on the ballot this year, along with all 100 House seats, half the state Senate, Arkansas' four U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat. The governor's race is at the top of the ticket, with incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe term-limited and unable to run for re-election.
Democrat Mike Ross and Republicans Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman are expected to formally enter the governor's race. The other top race is this year is for the U.S. Senate, where U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton is challenging U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.
Filing opens at the state Capitol on Monday at noon and runs through March 3.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.
The Associated Press and Arkansas Online reporter Gavin Lesnick contributed to this story.