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More candidates announce for Arkansas legislative seats as filing period nears

Arkansas filing period begins Feb. 22 by Rachel Herzog | January 23, 2022 at 3:48 a.m.
FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this file photo.


A month before the filing period for state offices begins, more Arkansans are jumping into races for state House and Senate seats.

The filing period begins Feb. 22 and ends March 1.

The primary election is May 24, and the general election is set for Nov. 8.

[RELATED: Full coverage of elections in Arkansas » arkansasonline.com/elections/]


The state completed its once-a-decade redistricting process last year, redrawing the districts to account for population changes. The districts were also renumbered. The changes take effect in 2023 for lawmakers elected this year.

The House has 100 seats and the Senate has 35 seats. Because Northwest Arkansas gained significant population and of the amount the Delta lost, some legislative seats shifted to the northwest.

EAST ARKANSAS

In eastern Arkansas, former Turrell Mayor Dorothy Cooper is running for Senate District 9, setting up a Democratic primary for the seat to be vacated next year by Sen. Keith Ingram, D-West Memphis. Ingram said earlier this month that he won't seek reelection.

The district covers Crittenden and Phillips counties and parts of Lee and St. Francis counties.

State Rep. Reginald Murdock, D-Marianna, announced he would run for the seat shortly after Ingram's announcement.

In a Facebook post, Cooper said she has remained transparent, honest and supportive of the greater good for all in her more than three decades as a public servant.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS

Republican Brit McKenzie is seeking the party's nomination in House District 7, which covers eastern Benton County.

McKenzie, a brand manager at Walmart, said he believes in small government, Second Amendment protections, and the idea that life begins at conception.

"Our state is at an important inflection point, one where we need conservative leadership, fiscal responsibility, and a fresh perspective to entrenched bureaucratic problems," he said, adding that he believes the role of the Legislature is to secure freedom and opportunity, and to foster an environment for businesses to flourish.

The incumbent in that district, Rep. Joshua Bryant, R-Rogers, is running for state Senate.

Republican Robert Fair, a military veteran from Springdale, is seeking the party's nomination in House District 11, which covers part of downtown Springdale and part of southern Benton County.

The incumbent is Rep. Megan Godfrey, D-Springdale, who announced after the state's redistricting process that she would not seek reelection this year.

Fair said he wants to take politics out of education and make government more transparent and responsive, as well as improve veterans' services.

Republican Rebecca Burkes has also announced for the seat.

Republicans Jason Maxwell and Jay Oliphant have announced bids for House District 12, which covers the far northwestern corner of the state.

They join Hope Hendren Duke in the race for the GOP nomination. The incumbent is Duke's sister, Rep. Gayla Hendren McKenzie, R-Gravette, who is running for the state Senate.

Oliphant is president of the Gravette School Board and a certified public accountant.

"The recent opening of the Bella Vista bypass section of I-49 will bring substantial development and change to our district," he said. "We need to balance those opportunities with maintaining the beauty and agricultural heritage of our wonderful corner of the Natural State. Expanding trails and installing electric vehicle charging stations are two ways to accomplish that."

Maxwell is a ministry leader and Realtor. In a news release, he said he has watched as "big-city liberal values" have crept into Northwest Arkansas and began changing every aspect of the community.

"While change can be a good thing, there are many elements of small-town charm and traditional family values that have been directly under attack," he said.

Republican Scott Richardson of Bentonville is seeking the Republican nomination in House District 13, which includes much of Bentonville and a portion of western Rogers.

Richardson is a director of technology for CEI Engineering Associates and a veteran.

In the 2018 Republican primary, he narrowly lost to then-incumbent Rep. Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville. Richardson ran again in 2020 and ultimately lost in a runoff to Rep. Delia Haak, R-Gentry.

The district Richardson is running in now is new to Benton County and does not have an incumbent. Another Republican, attorney Greg Payne of Bentonville, is also running for the seat.

Alma business owner Warren Robertson is seeking the Republican nomination in Senate District 29, which includes all of Crawford County along with the southern and eastern portions of Crawford County. It is a new district without an incumbent.

On his campaign Facebook page, Robertson says he supports the Second Amendment, lower taxes and limited government and that he is 100% anti-abortion.

Van Buren City Council member Jim Petty has also announced a Republican bid for Senate District 29.

Artist and Democratic Party of Arkansas state committee member Jim Wallace is running for Senate District 28, which includes Carroll and Madison counties along with parts of Boone, Newton, Johnson and Franklin counties.

On his website, Wallace said legislators need to listen to voters' needs and work on fulfilling them, instead of dictating to voters what is in their best interest.

Wallace joins Republicans Bob Largent and state Rep. Keith Slape of Compton in announcing for the seat. Incumbent Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, is seeking reelection.

NORTH ARKANSAS

Entrepreneur Hazelle Marie Whited will seek the Republican nomination in House District 2. The district covers portions of Fulton, Sharp and Randolph counties.

The incumbent is Rep. Marsh Davis, R-Cherokee Village. Davis said Thursday that he would announce whether he would seek reelection in the district this week.

In a news release, Whited said her campaign will focus on the needs of rural Arkansas, challenges of small business and the promotion of mental wellness. She said those issues are important to the district for sustainability and future growth.

Bruce Emerson, a small-business owner and turkey farmer in rural Marion County, is seeking the Republican nomination in House District 4, which covers Marion County and part of Baxter County.

The incumbent is Rep. Jack Fortner, R-Yellville.

In a news release, Emerson said it's time to elect a true conservative who will fight for freedom, liberty, lower taxes and limited government.

"I've sat by and watched as our representatives have grown government, increased your taxes, and voted to restrict your liberties in the face of a so-called crisis," Emerson said.

Republican Jim Hall is seeking the party's nomination in House District 5, where Rep. Ron McNair, R-Alpena, is the incumbent.

Hall, a business owner and rancher, said in a news release that it's important to have a public servant in office who will focus on serving people and businesses instead of "all the special interests that most representatives serve to advance their own bank accounts and build their power base."

He added that he "can deliver a more vital life" for residents.

McNair announced that he is seeking reelection earlier this month.

House District 5 covers the southern half of Boone County.

RIVER VALLEY

Convenience store owner Wade Dunn is seeking the Republican nomination in House District 47, which covers part of Sebastian County, including Greenwood.

In a news release, Dunn said, "It is past time for conservatives to stand up and be a real voice for our Christian, conservative values."

He added that government should be "smaller, less intrusive, and less prohibitive than it is today" and that he wants to focus on making Arkansas a better state to live and do business in.

The incumbent is Rep. Lee Johnson, R-Greenwood, who announced his intention to run for reelection this year in November.

Republican Max Blake will seek the party's nomination in District 48, he announced in a news release Monday.

That district covers part of southern Crawford County, including Van Buren, and a small part of northern Sebastian County.

"Van Buren deserves a voice, and a chance to compete with our surrounding communities," Blake said in a news release, adding that he would advocate for children, families, economic growth and constitutional rights.

The incumbent in House District 48 is Gary Deffenbaugh, who is not seeking reelection. Another Republican, Ryan Rose, has also announced for the seat.

SOUTH ARKANSAS

Perennial candidate and consultant Drew Pritt said he will seek the Democratic nomination in House District 94, which covers parts of Bradley, Drew and Desha counties.

"I've been very disappointed with the past few sessions of the Legislature," Pritt said, adding that he wanted to see the state have responsible leadership where politicians work with others across the aisle to help the state and district.

The incumbent in House District 94 is Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R-Hermitage.

Libertarian Donn Baker has also announced a bid for the seat.

See the legislative maps: https:www.arkansasonline.com1219arkmaps

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, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. announcing for statewide, congressional or legislative office? Email capitol@arkansasonline.com.

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


Print Headline: More hopefuls join legislative contests

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