Arkansas House, Senate incumbents enjoy strong showing in general election

GOP adds to supermajorities in both chambers

Side view of Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

Side view of Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

The 94th General Assembly will feature mostly familiar faces after the majority of incumbents won reelection Tuesday night.

If unofficial returns hold, Republicans strengthened their supermajorities in both chambers, gaining two seats in each. 

As it stands, the state Senate will be comprised of 29 Republicans and six Democrats. 

The state House will include 83 Republicans and 17 Democrats. 

State Senate

All 29 incumbents seeking seats in the Arkansas Senate on Tuesday won their races. Twelve candidates ran unopposed or won their primary contests, while 17 faced opponents and won. 

Six state representatives are joining the Senate, including Democrat Fred Love and Republicans John Payton, Justin Boyd, Clint Penzo, Joshua Bryant and Jim Dotson.

Rep. Reginald Murdock (D-Marianna) could join them. With 50% of areas reporting, he was leading Republican Terry Fuller by about 700 votes in the District 9 race, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Republican Sens. James Sturch, Bob Ballinger and Charles Beckham lost their primaries and did not advance to the General Election.

Six Senate races did not have incumbents. Two Republican candidates in those races defeated their primary challengers and faced no opponents Tuesday — Steve Crowell in District 3 and Jim Petty in District 29.

State House

In the Arkansas House, 38 of the 75 incumbents who sought reelection ran unopposed or won in the primary. In the 37 contested races, Rep. David Fielding (D-Magnolia) was the sole incumbent to lose his seat. Republican Wade Andrews defeated Fielding in the District 98 race with 54% of the vote.

Rep. Steve Magie (D-Conway) had the narrowest margin of victory in the House. He earned four votes more than Republican Trent Minner, according to complete but unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

Minner in a statement Wednesday afternoon said he was still awaiting final results.

“There are votes outstanding, and we should know more in the coming days… Once all votes are counted, I am confident that we will win this race,” he said.

Four incumbents lost in the primary election. Rep. Marsh Davis (R-Cherokee Village) lost in the District 2 primary runoff to Trey Steimel who went on to win in the general election. Reps. Craig Christiansen (R-Bald Knob), David Hillman (R–Almyra) and David Tollett (R-Marvell) also lost their primaries.

Republican state Reps. Gayla Hendren McKenzie and Spencer Hawks sought seats in the Arkansas Senate, but lost in the primary.

Twenty-five Arkansas House races had no incumbents. Of those, six candidates won their primaries and were unopposed — Democrat Tara Shephard and Republicans Steven Walker, Bart Schulz, Shad Pearce, Ryan Rose and Matt Duffield.

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Antoinette Grajeda, Arkansas Advocate
Antoinette Grajeda, Arkansas Advocate

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.

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