Who Won, Who Lost Election Night? Did Voters OK Casinos?
Well here I am on Nov. 7 trying to re-forecast what happened on Nov. 6.
The problem is this column, for the stated deadlines of my editor, is that this missive be written Oct. 29, a full week and one-day prior to the November General Election.
And so it is with column writers of all things political.
Often the deadlines whip us as hard as the voters whipped some candidates last night.
In an effort to tell the future, from the past, here is my summation of last night’s election results.
There were more voters in this year’s Mid-Term Elections than the last Mid-Term Elections four years ago. However, the vote totals did not reach the vote totals of two years ago when the Presidential Election filled the Arkansas ballots.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson won going away, but actually polled fewer votes than he did two years ago (and he won big then). There were just simply not enough people voting for him in this three-way race with a young Democratic opponent and a Libertarian candidate.
The state-wide races, with the exception of one race — that of Arkansas Attorney General — were won by Republican candidates as they held sway even with a “soft” field of named candidates that were unfamiliar to the ears of most Arkansans.
In the Attorney General’s race, Mike Lee, the Democratic challenger to Leslie Rutledge, the current Attorney General, lost that narrow race. He fell to two major challenges from Rutledge; first her apparent closeness to the current Trump administration in Washington, D.C., and Rutledge became a mom for the first time this past year. This enabled her to repeat her often said mantra of being a “Conservative, gun-toting, Christian…” adding the word “Momma,” to the mix.
Democrat challengers for Arkansas Secretary of State, Land Commissioner and the other statewide constitutional races were crushed by the same red wave of voters that elected Hutchinson, Rutledge and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who posted the widest margin over these challengers of any other candidate, I predict.
In the state’s four Congressional races, only the 2nd District of Little Rock and the four counties surrounding Pulaski County, was in play. Congressmen Steve Womack of Rogers (3rd District), Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs (4th District) and Rick Crawford of Jonesboro (1st District) returned to Washington, D.C., with comfortable margins of victory.
Locally some of the State House of Representative races were closer than usual, still outside of one or two particular districts in Northwest Arkansas, the incumbents all returned to Little Rock.
An oddity in the race for State House District 80 was the race where incumbent Rep. Charlene Fite of Van Buren, had to fend off two challengers, Lou Reep Sharp of Fayetteville, a Democrat, and former Prairie Grove City Councilman, and now a Libertarian candidate, Casey Copeland. This race, with no runoff required by statute, may have been closer than first expected, depending upon the ‘get out the vote’ campaigns of all three candidates.
Did state Rep. Charlie Collins, a Republican from Fayetteville seeking re-election in House District 84, get re-elected? Probably so. He was given a stiff challenge over his gun carry legislation, but sadly that particular issue did not stick in the urban/ rural mix of that district. Denise Garner of Fayetteville ran a hard race, Collins no doubt out-spent her, and that made the final result.
A close race may have developed in the House District 87 race as a new Democratic challenger, Kelly Scott Unger, tried to unseat Rep. Robin Lundstrum of Elm Springs. The district which stretches from the Oklahoma line, includes Siloam Springs, Elm Springs, Tontitown, and portions of Western Springdale.
Lundstrum ran a well-managed campaign sticking to the issues and fought off the blue-wave Democrats had hoped for.
On the issues on the ballot, I am hoping that Arkansans voted two of them down — even the minimum wage raises — as the state may not be in the position to do so according to the state’s balanced budget. The casino issue (No. 4) tried to hide the fact it was for casino gambling at the end and say it was for economic growth – I hope Arkansas didn’t take that bait on the hook.
And after all the voting, I hope the present your ID card to vote, won out. But heck it is a week away from the actual results being known.
Hope I got most of this correct, but if not, I’ll revisit it in print next week. Politics, you see, never goes out of style or print, no matter what day is on the calendar.