Cobbling together notes from election
Here are some notes from an old reporter’s notebook on the previous Mid-Term General Election and campaign.
Hats off to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on a re-election bid that was as strong as his former defeats for such offices back in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Governor pulled off a double-digit win against a young and rising Democratic candidate, Jared Henderson, and a pesky Libertarian, Mark West, to once again get to sit in the corner office of the second floor of the State Capitol.
Hutchinson will also get to enjoy living in the rejuvenated and redecorated Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock. It took almost the entire first four years for his wife, Susan, and Arkansas’ First Lady, to get to put a real re-do on the Public’s House and try to make it more a home for the stay-at-home couple and their extended family.
One does not have to wonder long, how sweet this re-election campaign was to Hutchinson – it was indeed, very sweet, longtime friends tell me.
The biggest surprise of the night for former State Rep. Jeff Williams, R-Springdale, was that he was not headed back to Little Rock. His defeat at the hands of political newcomer, Megan Godfrey, was a narrow 30-vote margin. Williams had run against opposition before, in losing a race for Washington County Judge to former Judge Marilyn Edwards and in a tight 2016 race where he defeated Irvin Comacho for the Springdale House seat in District 89.
Godfrey is an English as a second language teacher in Springdale. •••
Going backwards, in politics, seems to be a trend for Casey Copeland of Prairie Grove.
He ran as a Libertarian candidate in the state House District 80, colliding with three-term incumbent state Rep. Charlene Fite and Democratic challenger, Lou Reed Sharp.
Copeland, a former Prairie Grove alderman and former GOP member of the Washington County Quorum Court in years past, polled 16,325 votes in a hotly contested District Judge’s race against Judge Graham M. Nations in the May 2016 non-preferential primary race.
Judge Nations won that contest with 22,127 votes or a 57-42 percent edge over Copeland.
This time out, in the three-way race, Copeland only gathered in 856 votes for a 10.96 percentage showing in the House contest.
Fite won, by the way, polling 60 percent of the votes or 4,633 votes in the three-person contest, according to Washington County unofficial election results.
• • •
State Rep. Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs, easily won her re-election match-up with Kelly Scott Unger of Siloam Springs. Lundstrum pulled in 70.4 percent of the vote, to Unger’s 29%, more than doubling her vote totals in Washington County.
Lundstrum also carried the Benton County (Siloam Springs) portion of the district.
Unger, who is a lawyer, at a Chamber of Commerce candidate forum in Siloam Springs, clearly misled those in attendance about a Facebook posting on her page promoting “sanctuary” for undocumented people in the United States.
She denied knowing what the word “sanctuary” meant in the context of the question. A snap shot of the photo once on Social Media clearly shows Unger and her daughter holding a poster that reads: “Sanctuary Everywhere – We will protect each other.” A brown hand clasps a white hand on the poster.
She could have owned her own posting, but did not.
• • •
There will be more women in the Arkansas Legislature than ever before, according to some local numbers posted on election night.
This can only be a good thing. • • •
State Rep. Greg Leding, who was running for and won the State Senate District 4 seat, did lose his cool in a direct confrontation with his GOP opponent Dawn Clemmence.
He later apologized and owned up to his mistake.
But Leding, a gentleman, a husband and father to a young daughter, did win with 61 percent of the vote.
His contrite and immediate apology and explanation of his frustration, fueled by a whisper campaign and printed flyers taking his legislative record out of context,
pushed him to make the mistake of confronting his opponent.
And one last thing. Pressing aggressive gun laws where no gun laws were wanted, beat Charlie Collins for his re-election bid to the State House in District 84.
— Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylon[email protected] yahoo.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.