Hutchin­son ally gets runoff win

Se­nate elec­tion next in May

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Michael R. Wickline of the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette. HUNTER FIELD

Gov. Asa Hutchin­son-aligned Bre­anne Davis won in a spe­cial Repub­li­can pri­mary runoff elec­tion Tues­day for a va­cant state Se­nate seat.

Davis, 35, of Rus­sel­lville, de­feated fel­low Rus­sel­lville Repub­li­can Robert J. Bai­ley, 59, who had been en­dorsed by Hutchin­son’s pri­mary op­po­nent, Jan Mor­gan.

Davis, a se­nior ac­count ex­ec­u­tive with North Car­olina-based global an­a­lyt­ics firm SAS In­sti­tute, moves on to a race against Rus­sel­lville Demo­crat Teresa Gal­le­gos on May 22 — the same day as the reg­u­lar pri­mary elec­tion.

Davis and Gal­le­gos will vie to fill the seat left va­cant in Novem­ber af­ter the can­cer death of Sen. Greg Stan­dridge, R-Rus­sel­lville. The dis­trict in­cludes New­ton and Pope counties and por­tions of Boone, Car­roll and Van Buren counties.

With all precincts re­port­ing, un­of­fi­cial vote totals for the Se­nate Dis­trict 16 Repub­li­can runoff were: Davis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,264 Bai­ley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,451

Tues­day’s race pit­ted two wings of the Repub­li­can Party against each other, pre­view­ing a sim­i­lar split that vot­ers will face in the May gu­ber­na­to­rial pri­mary be­tween Hutchin­son and Mor­gan, a Hot Springs gun range owner.

Davis and Bai­ley had first faced off in a three-way spe­cial pri­mary on Feb. 13 that in­cluded Luke Hef­fley of Rus­sel­lville. Davis and Bai­ley se­cured 2,440 votes and 2,327 votes, re­spec­tively, but nei­ther se­cured a 50 per­cent ma­jor­ity.

The two Repub­li­cans held a va­ri­ety of pol­icy dis­agree­ments, rang­ing from Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion to a 2017 law that al­lows peo­ple with en­hanced train­ing to carry concealed hand­guns at pub­lic univer­si­ties and other pub­lic spa­ces.

Nei­ther can­di­date re­turned phone mes­sages left Tues­day evening af­ter the race was de­cided.

Davis has said she’ll work with Hutchin­son to con­tinue eval­u­at­ing Arkansas Works — the state’s ver­sion of Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, which pur­chases health in­sur­ance for some low-in­come Arkansans.

Davis had been en­dorsed by Hutchin­son, who had also hosted a fundraiser for Davis in Rus­sel­lville last month.

Mor­gan en­dorsed Bai­ley, owner of Bai­ley Sig­na­ture Firearms and a re­tired ma­chin­ist, be­cause of his con­ser­va­tive beliefs about spend­ing and gov­ern­ment size, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman.

Hef­fley, who won 854 votes dur­ing the Fe­bru­ary spe­cial pri­mary, en­dorsed Davis in the runoff.

Davis raised $148,324 dur­ing the cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to the sec­re­tary of state’s on­line cam­paign records. She spent $94,068.

Bai­ley raised $42,025 and spent $40,662, records show.

The sources of Davis’ fi­nan­cial sup­port in­cluded busi­ness and health care in­ter­ests; Bai­ley’s in­cluded op­po­nents of the state’s Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion.

Davis said she sup­ports a pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that would limit dam­ages in cer­tain law­suits and limit at­tor­neys’ con­tin­gency fees. She said it would pro­tect Arkansans from un­rea­son­able le­gal fees but still al­low them to re­cover dam­ages in cases of neg­li­gence.

She sup­ports the state’s new en­hanced hand­gun carry law and op­poses re­stric­tions on law-abid­ing gun own­ers.

Davis has also said she’ll fight to en­sure that Arkansas Tech Univer­sity in Rus­sel­lville is ad­e­quately funded.

The win­ner of the May race be­tween Davis and Gal­le­gos will serve in the Se­nate un­til Jan­uary 2021, the re­main­der of the four-year term Stan­dridge won in 2016.

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