Arkansas filing period ends with all congressional seats contested, four-way race for chief justice

By: and - November 15, 2023 7:42 am

People gather in the Arkansas Capitol rotunda on Monday, November 6, 2023 for the first day of filing to run for office in 2024. (John Sykes/Arkansas Advocate)

When the dust settled on Arkansas’ 2024 candidate filing period Tuesday afternoon, all four of Arkansas’ incumbent congressmen had Democratic opponents and one faces a primary challenger.

State Sen. Clint Penzo, R-Springdale, filed late Monday to run against U.S. Rep. Steve Womack in the 3rd Congressional District Republican primary, making it the most high-profile March primary contest outside of the presidential race.

EXPLAINER: How to find your elected representative in Arkansas

Pine Bluff attorney Risie Howard filed as a Democrat in the 4th Congressional District just before the filing period ended at noon Tuesday, ensuring the Democratic party fielded candidates for each of Arkansas’ four U.S. House seats.

There will be a four-way race for chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, a contest that includes three sitting justices. That race, along with two other Supreme Court seats, is nonpartisan but will be held on the same day as the preferential primary — March 5.

More than 350 people filed for public office at the Arkansas Capitol over the last week, ranging from candidates for president to the state Legislature and judgeships.

For the state House of Representatives, where all 100 seats are on the ballot next year, 108 Republicans and 79 Democrats filed as candidates; 48 seats will be contested. 

In the state Senate, where 18 of 35 seats are up for grabs, 31 Republicans and 12 Democrats filed. There will be five contested races.

Leslie Bellamy, director of elections in the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office, gavels the filing period to close at noon on Nov. 14, 2023. (Hunter Field/Arkansas Advocate)

Republicans will be focused on defending their supermajority and potentially taking a few seats away from Democrats, particularly in East Arkansas where several incumbent Democrats in the House decided not to seek reelection, said Republican Party of Arkansas Executive Director Seth Mays.

Democrats, meanwhile, want to break the GOP’s supermajority, and they are contesting the most state House seats since the early 2010s. Democratic candidates plan to focus heavily on controversial portions of the LEARNS Act, like the new private school voucher program, said Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman Grant Tenille. 

Arkansas’ March 5 primary coincides with “Super Tuesday” when primaries will also be held in Alabama, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia.

The general election is on Nov. 5.

Below are the lists of candidates who filed for the most high-profile races

U.S. President

2024_Election_U.S._President

 

U.S. House of Representatives

2024_Election_U.S._Congress

 

Arkansas Senate

2024_Election _AR_Senate

 

Arkansas House

2024_Election_AR_House_of_Representatives

 

Arkansas Supreme Court

2024_Election_AR_Supreme_Court

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Hunter Field
Hunter Field

Hunter Field is a veteran Arkansas journalist whose reporting on the state has carried him from military air strips in northwest Arkansas to soybean fields in the Arkansas delta. Most recently, he was the Democrat-Gazette's projects editor, leading the newspaper's investigative team. A Memphis native, he enjoys smoking barbecue, kayaking and fishing in his free time.

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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

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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