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Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday set a special primary election for Feb. 13 for the Senate District 29 seat formerly held by Cabot Republican Eddie Joe Williams, and the special election for May 22 -- the same day as the regular primary election.

If a special primary runoff for the Senate seat is required, that runoff election will be March 13, according to the proclamation that the Republican governor signed Friday. Senate District 29 includes parts of Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties.

Williams resigned from his Senate District 29 seat, effective Wednesday, and started work Thursday as President Donald Trump's representative to the Southern States Energy Board. In 2016, Williams was elected to a four-year state Senate term that was to expire in January 2021. The person elected in the special election will serve out the rest of Williams' term.

Cabot Republican Ricky Hill expects to make a decision about joining the Senate District 29 race over the Thanksgiving break, Hill spokesman Chase Dugger said Friday. Hill works for Bank of the Ozarks in Cabot and Lonoke, and is a former Cabot School Board member, Dugger said.

Cabot Republican Jim Coy said Thursday that he plans to run for the Senate seat.

Cabot Republican R.D. Hopper said Thursday that he would wait until Hutchinson set a special election before deciding whether to seek the position. Hopper could not be reached for comment by telephone Friday evening.

Coy is vice president of sales for Infutor Data Solutions based in Oakbrook, Ill. He formerly worked for Acxiom for 18 years and is a former Cabot School Board member. Hopper owns Sonny's Auto Salvage and formerly served as a Lonoke County justice of the peace. Hopper lost to Williams in the 2016 primary election.

The filing period for party candidates to run for the Senate District 29 seat will be from noon Dec. 6 to noon Dec. 13 in the secretary of state's office, according to Hutchinson's proclamation.

Independent and write-in candidates for the Senate seat are required to file their paperwork with the secretary of state's office by noon Dec. 13.

The Senate District 29 seat is one of two vacant positions in the 35-member Senate.

The other is in Senate District 16. Russellville Republican Greg Standridge died Thursday after a battle with cancer. Hutchinson hasn't yet set a special election to fill the Senate District 16 seat.

District 16 includes Newton and Pope counties, and parts of Boone, Carroll and Van Buren counties.

A Section on 11/18/2017

Print Headline: Governor sets elections to fill state Senate vacancy

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