Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday called for a special primary election to be held Feb. 13 for the state Senate seat that was held by Russellville Republican Greg Standridge, who died Thursday.
Nominees selected in the primary will face one another in a special election May 22 -- the same day as next year's regular primary election.
The Republican governor issued the proclamation calling for the special election in Senate District 16 late Tuesday afternoon, after a funeral was held for Standridge on Tuesday morning at First Baptist Church in Russellville. Standridge, 50, owner of an insurance agency, had served in the Senate since April 2015. He died after a battle with cancer.
If a special primary runoff is necessary in Senate District 16, the runoff would be conducted on March 13, under Hutchinson's proclamation.
Senate District 16 is comprised of Newton and Pope counties and parts of Boone, Carroll and Van Buren counties.
Some Republicans advised potential candidates to wait a bit after Standridge's funeral before publicly signaling their interest.
Standridge was re-elected in 2016 to a four-year term, so the winner of the special election will serve out the rest of his term, through January 2021.
The special election will be the fourth such election for a state senator in the Russellville area since 2000.
Standridge was elected in a special election in April 2015, after then-state Sen. Michael Lamoureux, R-Russellville, resigned in November 2014 to become Hutchinson's chief of staff. Lamoureux left the governor's office last year.
Lamoureux was elected in a special election in December 2009 after then-state Sen. Sharon Trusty, R-Russellville, resigned. Trusty was elected in a special election in November 2000 after then-state Sen. Tom Kennedy, R-Russellville, resigned to take a lobbying job with Entergy Corp.
The filing period for political parties' candidates for the Senate District 16 seat will run from noon Dec. 6-noon Dec. 13 at the secretary of state's office, according to Hutchinson's proclamation.
Independent and write-in candidates are required to file their paperwork with the secretary of state's office by noon Dec. 13.
Standridge's death -- along with last week's resignation of state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, to start work as President Donald Trump's federal representative to the Southern States Energy Board -- leaves the 35-member Senate with 33 senators. State law requires that the vacant seats be filled in special elections. The Senate now has 24 Republicans and nine Democrats.
Hutchinson on Friday set the same special election dates for Williams' former seat in Senate District 29, which is comprised of parts of Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties.
A week ago, the governor also set the same special election dates for the House District 83 seat vacated by Marshall Republican David Branscum. He left office to start work as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development state director, another Trump appointment. House District 83 is comprised of Newton and parts of Boone, Carroll, Pope and Searcy counties.
Branscum's recent resignation leaves the 100-member House with 99 members. The House now has 75 Republicans and 24 Democrats.
With the exception of the House speaker and Senate president pro tempore, state senators and representatives are paid annual salaries of $40,188, plus per diem and mileage during legislative sessions and for attending meetings. Per diem is the allowance for lodging, meals and incidental expenses.
The House speaker and Senate president pro tempore are paid annual salaries of $45,900, plus per diem and mileage. In 2016, 135 lawmakers collected an average of nearly $16,963 in per diem, mileage and other expense reimbursements such as travel.
For the regular 2018 election cycle, the filing period for state and federal offices will be Feb. 22-March 1. The primary will be May 22, and the general election will be Nov. 6.
Metro on 11/22/2017
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