A quieter second day of Arkansas' public office filing period saw 35 candidates file their 2020 paperwork, including U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, a proxy for former Vice President Joe Biden and the first hopeful for Arkansas Supreme Court associate justice.
The excitement that surrounded the first day of filing Monday had faded some by Tuesday as candidates arrived in ones and twos.
Many of those who filed on Day 2 were multiple-term incumbents who sought to avoid the first day's crowded state Capitol rotunda.
House Revenue and Taxation Committee Chairman Joe Jett, R-Success, who has served in the House since 2013, avoided Monday's long lines by filing Tuesday. He's seeking a fifth two-year term in House District 56.
"Everybody knows I am running, so I decided to come down today," said Jett, who doesn't expect to have an opponent in next year's election.
The weeklong filing period ends Tuesday. Filing will not occur over the weekend or on Veterans Day.
The Republican and Democratic primaries and the nonpartisan judicial election are March 3. The general election is Nov. 3.
Among those who filed Tuesday were seven Republicans, eight Democrats and two independents seeking seats in the state House of Representatives. Additionally, 16 nonpartisan candidates filed for various judgeships across Arkansas.
About noon Tuesday, Benton attorney and businessman Larry C. Wallace filed paperwork for Biden, who is running in the crowded field for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Wallace, who worked on former President Bill Clinton's campaign and transition team, said he got to know Biden when the former vice president headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Wallace said it was a great experience filing for Biden, and he said the campaign has asked him to assist with several tasks in Arkansas.
Biden was the seventh Democratic presidential candidate to file in Arkansas. President Donald Trump is expected to file for the Republican nomination later this week, according to party officials.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan "Chip" Welch became the first candidate to file for the Arkansas Supreme Court seat that's up for election in 2020, finishing his paperwork with the secretary of state's staff around 1:30 p.m. Welch is expected to face Barbara Webb, a former Saline County circuit judge who announced her candidacy over the weekend. They are seeking Position 4, an associate justice spot.
"We've got a choice between experience and inexperience," Welch said. "We've got a choice between nonpartisan and independent and a party politician."
Webb is the wife of Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb. Judicial races are nonpartisan. Welch said Barbara Webb's connections might draw questions about the "appearance of fairness" on the high court, while casting aside the notion that his own connections might draw similar questions. Welch's daughter, Ashley Hudson, is running as a Democrat for a state House seat in Little Rock.
"My daughter didn't get the governor to give me my job," Welch said. "I've got two kids, I've got one's a Democrat and one's a Republican."
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Barbara Webb in 2017 to fill a vacancy on the 22nd Judicial Circuit, a role she served in until the term expired earlier this year. She is now the chief law judge on the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission.
Told of Welch's comments, she responded, "the only person inserting partisan politics into this race is my opponent."
Webb added that she has served as an elected prosecutor and as an administrative law judge on the Workers' Compensation Commission under Democratic and Republican governors. "I believe I'm clearly the more qualified candidate in the race," she said.
On Tuesday, Westerman became the third of the state's four GOP congressmen to file for reelection. For the second cycle in a row, he will face a Democratic opponent. Democrat William Hanson filed for the district seat Monday, as did Libertarian Frank Gilbert. Westerman represents the 4th Congressional District. The former state lawmaker has been in the U.S. House since 2015.
"President Trump is very popular in my district so having him on the ballot, having Tom Cotton on the ballot, is probably going to drive turnout a little but more," Westerman said.
Hanson too has discussed voter turnout, saying he hopes his campaign will mobilize voters.
Crawford County District Judge Chuck Baker was the first candidate to file Tuesday. He filed about 9:20 a.m.
"The only place I have seen longer lines than were here yesterday was at Popeyes trying to get the new chicken sandwich," he joked.
Baker is seeking his second four-year term as district judge.
House Minority Leader Fred Love, D-Little Rock, also filed Tuesday. He said he would've filed Monday, but he had been sick.
Love is running for his sixth House term and said he is unaware of any opponents.
"But you never know," he said.
Cabot Democrat Rodney Govens initially filed Tuesday for the House District 14 seat held by Rep. Roger Lynch, R-Lonoke.
He said in an interview that he will be in a primary election against Lonoke Democrat Rick Bransford.
But Govens later filed to run for House District 44 instead, a seat held by state Rep. Cameron Cooper, R-Romance.
"It was a mistake on my part," Govens said in a subsequent interview. "I thought I was in [House District] 14.
But I am actually in [House District] 44."
Filing continues today.
State House Minority Leader Fred Love of Little Rock smiles for the camera Tuesday after filing for reelection. He is seeking a sixth term.
Terra Stephenson, a candidate for state District Court District 2, Division 4, looks over election material as her campaign manager, Whitney Doolittle, stands by.
A Section on 11/06/2019
Print Headline: 2nd day of filing at state Capitol draws 35 candidates