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More Arkansans showing interest in bids for 2022 legislative races

GOP’s Cheatham plans to challenge Democrat Chesterfield in Senate District 12 by Rachel Herzog | December 19, 2021 at 3:43 a.m.
FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this file photo.

Arkansas House and Senate seats continue to attract candidates, as more announcements were made last week by Republicans and a Democrat that they planned to seek various legislative offices.

Since Arkansas' new legislative district maps for the next decade became final in late November, dozens of candidates have emerged to run for seats throughout the state.

The filing period for state candidates begins Feb. 22 and the primary election is May 24.

The general election is Nov. 8 next year.

CENTRAL ARKANSAS

Wil Cheatham, a third-year law student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, on Friday announced that he will challenge incumbent Sen. Linda Chesterfield, D-Little Rock, in Senate District 12, which includes parts of Little Rock, North Little Rock and southeast Pulaski County.

Cheatham, a Republican, says on his website that he is "fighting for positive change in the city I call home." His priorities include protecting business from government overreach, promoting beautification, ending drag racing, promoting parental choice in schools, improving school safety, protecting individual liberties, and economic revitalization, according to the site.

Chesterfield, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after four years in the House, is seeking reelection next year.

The state's 35 senators serve four-terms, except around the time of redistricting. All Arkansas Senate seats are open in 2022.

[MAPS: See approved state House, Senate maps » arkansasonline.com/1219arkmaps/]

RIVER VALLEY

Dustin Morphis, a warehouse shipping manager from Russellville, announced Monday that he will seek the Republican nomination for House District 44, which includes parts of Pope and Van Buren counties.

Morphis is the former chairman of the Pope County Republican Committee and current chairman of the Pope County 911 Advisory Board.

The incumbent in that district is Rep. Stan Berry, R-Dover, whom Morphis challenged unsuccessfully in 2018. Berry, who served in the House from 2003-08 before being reelected in 2019, said Friday that he is seeking reelection.

In his announcement, Morphis said he is a strong conservative and sees a great need for a "fighter" in Little Rock representing the district.

"We need a vocal proponent of economic development, educational opportunity, protecting the sanctity of life, and job skills training," he said.

EAST ARKANSAS

Jeremiah Moore, a real estate broker from Clarendon, announced Wednesday that he will seek the Republican nomination for House District 61, which includes Woodruff County and parts of Jackson, Prairie, Monroe and Arkansas counties.

In his announcement, Moore said he is "dedicated to the ideals of individual freedom and personal responsibility."

"As your next State Representative, I will always work to support our farming community, grow our local economy and support our existing businesses, and keep our government accountable to the people here at home," he said.

The incumbent in that district is Rep. David Hillman, R-Almyra, who announced his reelection bid in November.

Cliff Hart, a Democrat and small-business owner from Wynne, is planning to run for Senate District 10, according to his website.

The district covers Jackson, Cross, Woodruff, Prairie and Monroe counties, along with parts of Poinsett, St. Francis, Lee, Arkansas and Lonoke counties.

Hart supports legalizing recreational cannabis and industrial hemp production as the drivers of long-term economic growth in Arkansas, his website states.

The incumbent in Senate District 10 is Sen. Ronald Caldwell, R-Wynne, who has served in the Senate since 2013.

NORTH ARKANSAS

Ronald Laslo, fire chief for Cord Volunteer Fire Department in Independence County, announced in October that he will seek the Republican nomination for Senate District 22.

The district includes Independence and Sharp counties along with parts of Fulton, Izard, Cleburne and Lawrence counties. The incumbent is Sen. James Sturch, R-Batesville, who is seeking reelection.

In his announcement, Laslo said he will be responsive to all constituents and touted his 15 years as a first responder.

"I am passionate about serving and improving our communities. I believe in keeping the power in the hands of the people when it comes to local control. Those in our community know what is best for our children," he said.

State Rep. John Payton, R-Wilburn, has also announced a primary challenge to Sturch.

SOUTH ARKANSAS

Wade Andrews, an auctioneer from Camden, said Friday that he plans to run in House District 98, which includes parts of Lafayette, Nevada, Columbia and Ouachita counties, and will formally announce on the first of the year.

"I've spoken to a lot of voters in my district, and the vast majority agree that we need new -- and effective -- leadership in Little Rock," Andrews said in a Facebook message.

The incumbent in that district is Rep. David Fielding, D-Magnolia, whom Andrews unsuccessfully challenged in his 2018 Republican bid for the seat.

Fielding has served in the House since 2011 and announced Wednesday that he would seek reelection in 2022.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS

Hope Hendren Duke, a Realtor from Gravette, announced earlier this month that she will seek the Republican nomination for House District 12, which covers northwestern Benton County.

The incumbent, Rep. Gayla Hendren McKenzie, R-Gravette, is running for state Senate District 35 to replace Sen. Jim Hendren, I-Sulphur Springs, who is not seeking reelection. Duke, McKenzie and Hendren are siblings, and Gov. Asa Hutchinson is their uncle. They are the children of former state Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette.

Former state Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, told the Carroll County News earlier this month that he is considering running against Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, for Senate District 28. King lost the Republican primary to Ballinger, who was then a state representative, in 2018. King served in the state House from 2007-12 and in the state Senate from 2013-18.

State Rep. Keith Slape, R-Compton, previously told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that he is planning a primary challenge to Ballinger.

Editor's note: Information for this article was drawn from news releases, news tips, local news sources and social media. Some candidates may not have come to the attention of this newspaper as of Friday. Previous lists of candidates were published Dec. 5 and Dec. 12. Announcing for statewide, congressional or legislative office? Email capitol@arkansasonline.com.

Information for this article was contributed by Doug Thompson of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Print Headline: Legislative seats draw more interest

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