Candidate list grows for Arkansas statewide, federal offices (Updated)

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

Editor’s note: A list of candidates (as of Friday, Feb. 28) filed in Arkansas legislative districts covering the Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith metro areas can be found at the end of this story.

Hundreds of candidates for state office have made the journey to the to the state capitol in Little Rock to file for their chosen offices this week.

One race receiving far more attention than politicos originally expected is the race for lieutenant governor. It is receiving increased scrutiny following the resignation of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, R-Ark., following an ethics commission finding of misspending of more than $40,000 in campaign and office funds.

The race has been shaken up in recent weeks with the entrance of U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, causing Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, to abandon his bid for the office and instead seek a third term in the state house. Others seeking the Republican nomination for the office are Reps. Andy Mayberry of Hensley, and Debra Hobbs of Rogers.

On the Democratic side, former Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter filed his candidacy papers Thursday (Feb. 27) for the office and has said Griffin's move into the race has not caused him to second guess his candidacy.

"This is about my opportunity to give back to my state. It has nothing to do with anyone else who wants to run in this race," he said.

Burkhalter, who announced his candidacy last year, said he wants to use the office as a way to advocate for bringing businesses and jobs to Arkansas, drawing on his own past to get the job done and advocate for small business owners like himself.

"I'm a guy who came from nowhere ... came to Little Rock, worked for someone else for close to 10 years ... never dreamed I would get the chance to have a business, to start a business," he said. "I went to the bankers in central Arkansas. ... Nobody would loan me money. I didn't come from a family of political influence or wealth."

Burkhalter, the only Democrat in the race, said he went to extreme measures to secure funding to start his own company, refinancing his home and using credit cards to become a successful business owner and have "the opportunity to live the American dream." He said running for lieutenant governor gives him the opportunity to now give back to Arkansas and pay "my debt to society."

Even though he has never before run for office, Burkhalter said he is hopeful he can run and win in November, this in spite of poll numbers showing Griffin a full 15% lead should the two go head to head in the general election, saying he'd "leave polling to the political pundits."

Burkhalter also dismissed a call by Mayberry to make the next term of whichever lieutenant governor is elected the last, eliminating the office outright. Mayberry has made the pitch to make him the state's "next, and last, lieutenant governor."

"People should have a chance to vote (on a person who may one day become governor)," Burkhalter said. "It should be someone elected by the state of Arkansas, not a district or a county."

Burkhalter also addressed the Private Option drama that has unfolded in the fiscal session during the last few weeks, saying it was time to pass the legislation he supports. The Private Option was passed in the 2013 legislation session and uses increased Medicaid funding through the new federal health care law to purchase private health insurance for low income residents.

"I'm for the Private Option. It was a bipartisan process in the last session. It passed by a super majority. It's hard to get that many people to agree on anything," he said. "There are over 100,000 people signed up on the exchange. I'm sure some of them have never had health insurance before."

He said should funding for the Private Option fail to pass the House, it would leave "a huge hole in the budget (that) the governor will have to deal with."

Following is a list of candidates for local federal offices, Arkansas Constitutional offices, as well as local state house and state senate races as provided by Talk Business blogger Jason Tolbert (as of Thursday, Feb. 27):
CONGRESSIONAL RACES
U.S. Senate:
• U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R
• U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D
• Mark Swaney, Green Party
• Nathan LaFrance, Libertarian

Third Congressional District:
• U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R
• Grant Brand, Libertarian

Fourth Congressional District:
• Rep. Bruce Westerman, R
• Tommy Moll, R
• James Lee Witt, D
• Ken Hamilton, Libertarian

ARKANSAS CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICES
Governor:
• Curtis Coleman, R
• Former U.S. Rep. Asa Hutchinson, R
• Former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D
• Josh Drake, Green
• Frank Gilbert, Libertarian

Lieutenant Governor:
• U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R
• Rep. Andy Mayberry, R
• Rep. Debra Hobbs, R
• John Burkhalter, D
• Chris Olson, Libertarian

Secretary of State:
• Secretary of State Mark Martin, R
• Susan Inman, D
• Jacob Holloway, Libertarian

Attorney General:
• David Sterling, R
• Leslie Rutledge
• Rep. Nate Steel, D

Auditor of State:
• Ken Yang, R
• Rep. Andrea Lea, R
• Regina Hampton, D

State Treasurer:
• Rep. Duncan Baird, R
• Saline County Clerk Dennis Milligan, R
• Hot Springs City Director Karen Garcia, D

Land Commissioner:
• John Thurston, R

• Elvis Presley, Libertarian

ARKANSAS SENATE *
Senate District 3:
• Sen. Cecille Bledsoe, R

Senate District 4:
• Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, D

Senate District 5:
• Sen. Bryan King, R

Senate District 6:
• Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R

Senate District 8:
• Sen. Jake Files, R

Senate District 9:
• Sen. Bruce Holland, R
• Rep. Terry Rice, R

* Senate Districts 1, 2 and 7 are not up for re-election this year.

ARKANSAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
House District 21:
• Marcus E. Richmond, R

House District 74:
• Rep. Jon Eubanks, R

House District 75:
• Rep. Charlotte Douglas, R

House District 76:
• Matt Pitsch, R
• Bobby Altes, R

House District 77:
• Justin Boyd, R

House District 78:
• Rep. George McGill, D

House District 79:
• Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, R

House District 80:
• Rep. Charlene Fite, R
• Taylor Watkins, Libertarian

House District 81:
• Rep. Justin Harris, R

House District 82:
• Rep. Bill Gossage, R

House District 84:
• Rep. Charlie Collins, R
• Justice of the Peace Candy Clark, D

House District 85:
• Rep. David Whitaker, D

House District 86:
• Rep. Greg Leding, D

House District 87:
• Robin Lundstrum, R
• Lucas Roebuck, R

House District 88:
• Rep. Randy Alexander, R
• Former Justice of the Peace Lance Eads, R

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House District 89:
• Rep. Micah Neal, R

House District 90:
• Paul Caldwell, R
• Jana Della Rosa, R

House District 91:
• Rep. Dan Douglas, R

House District 92:
• Kim Hendren, R

House District 93:
• Rep. Jim Dotson, R
• Alderman Bill Burckart, R
• Alderman Leah Williams, D

House District 94:
• Marge Wolf, R
• Rebecca Petty, R
• Grimsley Graham, D

House District 95:
• Rep. Sue Scott, R
• Dane Zimmerman, R

House District 96:
• Grant Hodges, R
• Damon Wallace, R

House District 97:
• Rep. Bob Ballinger, R

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