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House hopeful seeks recount in tight race

27 votes separate District 31 rivals by Hunter Field | March 5, 2020 at 3:16 a.m.

A Central Arkansas sports radio personality is requesting a recount in his race for the Republican nomination for a seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives after he was initially led to believe that he had won the nomination.

R.J. Hawk, a personality on radio station KABZ-FM, 103.7, "The Buss," said he requested recounts of the House District 31 Republican primary from the election commissions in Saline and Pulaski counties.

Hawk lost the race to Keith Brooks by 27 votes, according to unofficial results from the Arkansas secretary of state's office.

With all precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:

Brooks 2,087

Hawk 2,060

Hawk said he, his family and supporters celebrated as if he had won the race late Tuesday night after he received a congratulatory call from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and his campaign manager was told by Pulaski County election officials that all of the District 31 ballots had been counted.

[RELATED » Full coverage of elections in Arkansas »]

However, Hawk said, he received word after midnight that two additional precincts had been counted, and the race result had flipped.

Hawk, a Bryant City Council member, said he has struggled to get answers about what occurred from Pulaski County election officials, so he requested a recount to "get our own answers."

"The democratic process is something I know we all hold sacred here in Arkansas and I know we all want fair and accurate elections," Hawk said in a statement posted to Twitter. "Given the narrow leads throughout election night and very late breaking changes in Pulaski County, I feel it's necessary to more closely examine the returns. In no way do I mean to imply an impropriety or illegalities, but given the extremely narrow vote count in the race I am simply seeking final clarity of the numbers. I know this can be accomplished in a timely manner that won't disrupt the process of certifying a winner."

Brooks, in a brief phone interview, didn't want to comment on the recount, but he did say he appreciated the efforts of his supporters and was eager to move to the general election on Nov. 3 against Democrat Mazhil Rajendran and independent Sandy Furrer.

Bryan Poe, the Pulaski County director of elections, said Hawk's recount request had been received. Poe said he would contact Hawk about paying for the recount upfront, roughly $500, and the recount would occur before the deadline to certify the election results on March 17.

Poe said he thought it had been miscommunicated to Hawk's campaign that results were final before the last few precincts were tallied, but he didn't know how the miscommunication occurred or where it started.

A representative of the Saline County Election Commission couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hutchinson, through a spokesman, said he called Hawk when it appeared he had won. When more results came in late, the Republican governor said he called and congratulated Brooks.

"Obviously, it was a close race," Hutchinson said.

House District 31 includes portions of west Little Rock, Bryant and rural areas in Pulaski and Saline counties. The seat had been held since 2013 by Rep. Andy Davis, R-Little Rock, who didn't seek reelection.

Metro on 03/05/2020

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