An English teacher and activist defeated an environmental lawyer to represent Arkansas’ House District 33, which includes Hillcrest and parts of downtown and midtown Little Rock.
With all 12 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:
Tippi McCullough . . . . 2,445 Ross Noland. . . . . . . . . . . 1,985
Both candidates are Democrats. Since there was no Republican in the race, Tuesday’s primary election was the final hurdle to the seat in the Legislature.
McCullough grew up in Hot Springs and attended Ouachita Baptist University on a basketball scholarship.
After college, she began teaching and coaching basketball in a career that took her to several school districts around the state. She was the first female president of the Arkansas Basketball Coaches Association.
She was fired from her teaching job at Mount St. Mary Academy in 2013 for marrying her longtime partner, deputy prosecutor Barbara Mariani. Same-sex marriage violated a morality clause in Mc-Cullough’s contract, school administrators said at the time.
The “traumatic” experience vaulted McCullough into activism.
Noland, also of Little Rock, has a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and a master’s in environmental law from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Before returning to Arkansas seven years ago, Noland worked as a legislative counselor for then-U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where he helped craft legislation, rules and regulations.
He now operates his own law practice and is executive director of the Buffalo River Foundation, a nonprofit land trust focused on conservation of the Buffalo National River’s watershed.
In the Democratic primary race for District 36, incumbent state Rep. Charles Blake fended off a challenge by businessman Darrell Stephens. Both men live in Little Rock.
With all 16 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:
Blake. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,666 Stephens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,033
There was no Republican candidate for the District 36 seat — which includes a portion of Pulaski County — so Blake will continue to serve in the Legislature. He has held the seat since 2015.
Blake is president of Ce-nArk Transportation LLC, which specializes in nonemergency medical transport of patients.
He co-sponsored a bill in 2015 to separate the same-day celebration of slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The bill failed to pass in that session, but Blake said it started the conversation that led to the eventual passage of a similar bill last year.
Stephens, who owns a company that finds employment for the disabled, said he has been in politics for more than two decades. He is the former president of the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus. Stephens also worked as a volunteer on former Gov. Mike Beebe’s campaign and for the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 and 2012.
Political newcomer Jasen Kelly defeated Benton City Council member Kerry Murphy in the Republican primary race for the District 28 House seat. Both men are from Benton.
Kelly will face Democrat Dustin Parsons of Benton in the Nov. 6 general election.
With all 15 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:
Kelly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 786 Murphy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 534
The District 28 seat — which includes parts of Saline County — is now occupied by Rep. Kim Hammer, R-Benton, who held the House seat for four terms. Hammer has decided to run for the District 33 Senate seat.
Kelly, the chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Saline County, said his more than 20 years of experience with the organization in a “servant leadership” role made him an ideal choice to be a state lawmaker.
In 2014, the Boys and Girls Club of Saline County became the lead agency to represent all the clubs in the state.
Murphy — the owner of a promotions company that produces gun sales and shows — served eight years on the Benton City Council.
In the House District 37 Democratic primary, Jamie Scott defeated Isaac Henry. Both are from North Little Rock.
With 10 out of 11 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:
Scott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,006 Henry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 701
Scott is director of Pulaski County Youth Services.
She has gone through a variety of respected leadership programs, including the John F. Kennedy Harvard School of Government Executive Education Authentic Leadership Program, Yale’s Women’s Campaign School and the Presidential Leaders Scholarship program. Scott has worked on a variety of local and national political campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid.
Henry is director of North Little Rock’s health and wellness program. He has spent the past two decades in the Army Reserve, mentoring children and working in city government.
Scott will face Mark Stephen Foster, an independent from North Little Rock, in the Nov. 6 general election.
The winner of the general election will replace Rep. Eddie Armstrong, D-North Little Rock, who isn’t running for re-election after serving three terms.
In the House District 39 Democratic primary, retired schoolteacher Monica Ball defeated Joshua Price.
With 13 out of 14 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:
Ball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,014 Price . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 498
Ball will face the incumbent, Rep. Mark Lowery, a Republican who is seeking his fourth term. All three live in Maumelle.
District 39 covers parts of Pulaski County, including sections of Maumelle and North Little Rock.
Ball retired as a national board-certified teacher after 28 years in both the North Little Rock and Little Rock school districts.
Price worked in communications for the Delta Regional Authority before resigning in February to avoid possible conflicts of interest while he campaigned.