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Parks wins Democratic primary while Fulfer, Unger go into Republican runoff in Northwest Arkansas Senate race

by Doug Thompson | December 15, 2021 at 8:17 a.m.
Mike Brinson of Elkins places his ballot into the ballot box Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, after voting in the Republican and Democratic primaries to pick candidates for special election for Senate District 7 at the First Baptist Church of Elkins. Visit for today's photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

Springdale Chief of Staff Colby Fulfer and political newcomer Steve Unger of Springdale advanced Tuesday to a Jan. 11 runoff in the special Republican primary to fill the state Senate District 7 vacancy.

Democrat Lisa Parks will face that runoff's winner in the special election Feb. 8.

Four Republican candidates ran in Tuesday's special party primary. The other two Republican challengers, Jim Bob Duggar of Tontitown and retired engineer Robert "Edge" Nowlin, are now out of the running.

Unger is a retired U.S. Navy captain and the only candidate in either the Republican or Democratic primary who is in his first political race. Fulfer is a former Springdale City Council member. Duggar is a former state representative who is a commercial real estate investor. Nowlin once ran for the Springdale School Board. Parks once ran for circuit judge, and Democratic candidate Derek Van Voast once ran for Springdale City Council.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the special election to replace Sen. Lance Eads, R-Springdale, who resigned Oct. 28 to take a lobbying job. Someone who voted in the Democratic primary is not eligible to vote in the Republican runoff.

Runoff elections take place when no candidate in a primary gains a majority of the vote.

Complete but unofficial Republican primary results were:

Duggar456 (15% of vote)

Fulfer 1,387 (47% of vote)

Nowlin 188 (6% of vote)

Unger941 (32% of vote)

Fulfer came within 100 votes of the 1,487 needed to win the primary outright, with no runoff.

Parks is an attorney from Tontitown who specializes in children's welfare. Van Voast is founder of a Springdale-based nonprofit.

Complete, but unofficial results were:

Parks 722 (84% of vote)

Van Voast 136 (16% of vote)

District 7 includes most of Springdale and Johnson, plus southern Tontitown, all of Goshen and Elkins, and eastern bits of Fayetteville. The district stretches to the eastern border of Washington County and touches both the southern and northern county lines.

This special election is not affected by the recent redrawing of legislative district boundaries. Those boundaries will apply to the 2022 general election. Legislative district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years after each U.S. census to equalize district populations.

The state has 35 Senate districts. State senators serve four-year terms and each receives a base salary of $42,428. They also receive per diem and reimbursement for expenses.

Print Headline: Fulfer, Unger in Republican runoff in Senate race


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