Garland County Justice of the Peace Matt McKee plans to run for a state Senate seat that Sen. Bill Sample of Hot Springs is seeking, McKee announced on Wednesday.
McKee, of Pearcy, said he will seek election to the newly drawn Senate District 6. The Senate district proposed by the state Board of Apportionment covers most of Garland County and western Saline County.
The board is scheduled to reconvene Nov. 29 to incorporate feedback and make any technical adjustments before giving final approval.
Sample, of Hot Springs, has served in the state Senate since 2011 and chairs the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.
He served in the state House of Representatives from 2005-11.
McKee, 38, said in an interview he has been considering running for the Legislature for two or three years. He has served as a justice of the peace for 11 years and as chairman of the Garland County Republican Party for seven years.
He is the owner of a residential remodeling business.
He said in a news release that the people of Senate District 6 deserve a proven, experienced and conservative Republican state senator.
"I will always protect the sanctity of human life, be a strong supporter of our constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and fight for parent's right to make educational decisions for their children," he said.
In response, Sample, 75, said in an interview, "That's what I have been doing for the last 16 years."
He said he's not surprised to have an opponent.
Sample said he is just going to continue to represent the people of his district.
"They can go after any part of my record," he said. "I'll stand by my record in representing the people of my district."
Sample added, "I'm not going to to say anything bad about anybody."
Through Sept. 30, he reported a campaign fund balance of $45,557.87.
The filing period for state candidates begins Feb. 22 and the primary election is May 24. The general election is Nov. 8 next year.
With a seat vacant from the resignation of Sen. Lance Eads, R-Springdale, the state Senate is composed of 26 Republicans, seven Democrats and an independent.
The Arkansas House is made up of 78 Republicans and 22 Democrats.