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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, looks over appropriation bills that senators voted on at the state Capitol during the Legislature’s fiscal session in 2018. ( Staton Breidenthal)

The state Senate on Thursday elected Sen. Jimmy Hickey, R-Texarkana, over Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, to be the Senate president pro tempore from 2021-2023.

Hester, who is the Senate Republican leader, said he was surprised by the Senate’s decision. The vote was in a secret ballot.

Hickey will succeed Sen. Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs, who has been the Senate president pro tempore since 2019. Hendren is a nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Hickey has been a critic at times of the Republican governor.

The 26-member Senate Republican caucus last week selected Hester as the Senate Republican nominee for Senate president pro tempore.

Hickey said last week that he declined to participate in the Senate Republican caucus’ selection of its nominee for Senate president pro tempore because the Senate pro tempore represents all 35 members of the Senate.

The Senate includes nine Democrats.

Both Hester and Hickey have served in the Senate since 2013. Hickey is a former co-chairman of the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee.

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