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Voters to choose new state senator in northeast Arkansas

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 14, 2014 at 7:18 a.m.

A special election for a state Senate seat in northeast Arkansas is being viewed as an early test of Democrats' and Republicans' strength heading into the fall elections.

Voters cast ballots Tuesday in the special election to fill the Senate District 21 seat vacated by former state Sen. Paul Bookout. Bookout is a Democrat who resigned last year after he was fined by the ethics commission for spending thousands in campaign funds on clothing, theater equipment and other personal items.

The special election pits Democrat Steve Rockwell against Republican John Cooper. The race has focused primarily on whether the state should continue its compromise plan to expand Medicaid. Rockwell has said he supports the "private option" plan approved last year and wants to continue it. Cooper has called for its defunding.

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