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Background

In 2011, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (with Attorney General Dustin McDaniel) redrew the state's legislative districts. Since Reconstruction, Democrats have held a majority in the State Legislature. After the 2010 elections, Democrats held a 5 seat majority in the State Senate and an 8 seat majority in the State House of Representatives.

Every senator has to seek reelection in 2012. Senators may serve a maximum of eight years.

The elections this year will revolve around whether to continue the Democratic majority that has been dominant in the state or finally go with the more conservative Republican Party. Democrats have been successful this year. Arkansas ended with a surplus, and they did that while cutting the grocery tax. They also have popular Governor Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel to represent them. Beebe has been successful in attracting business to the booming Northwest and to Little Rock. The state Arkansas Republican Party is considered fairly weak right now. However, Republicans have the advantage of the national Democratic Party being extremely out of touch with rural voters, and Obama heading the ballot this year.

One potential concern for the Democrats - because of growing population in the Northwest and declining population in the Delta, Beebe had to move a State Senate seat and several State House seats to the Northwest. The Northwest votes straight ticket Republican. It is conceivable that Republicans could pickup the majority by losing every rural Democratic seat and carrying the Northwest, and seats where they have incumbents.

Some of the partisan data might be up to 1% off due to split precincts and counties that make precinct matching impossible.

Partisan numbers were taken from: (statewide percentages)

1) 2010 Land Commissioner - LJ Bryant (D, 47.32%) vs John Thurston (R, 52.68%)
2) 2010 Secretary of State  - Pat O’Brien (D, 48.67%) vs Mark Martin (R, 51.33%)
3) 2010 Lieutenant Governor - Shane Broadway (D, 48.95%) vs Mark Darr (R, 51.05%)
4) 2010 Governor - Mike Beebe (D, 64.42%) vs Jim Keet (R, 33.63%)
5) 2010 Senator - Blanche Lincoln (D, 36.95%) vs John Boozman (R, 57.90%)

Now for the State Senate districts...

State Senate District 1, Blue: (R+19): No Incumbent, Safe Republican
84% White, 9% Hispanic

*Thurston 74% (R), Bryant 26% (D)
*Martin 72% (R), O’Brien 28% (D)

*Darr 73% (R), Broadway 27% (D)
*Beebe 50% (D), Keet 49% (R)
*Boozman 77% (R), Lincoln 19% (D)

The booming northwest needed a new district, and the Senate redistricting centers it on Bentonville. This area is very white and is one of the only areas that is historically conservative in Arkansas. The northwest is also home to Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and JB Hunt Transportation Services, three big corporations.

Mike Beebe, meanwhile, realized he wasn't going to be getting a Democrat here, so he drew a district for former Democrat and moderate Republican, State Representative Tim Summers. Only issue?

Summers lost the primary to grassroots conservative Bart Hester, who has promised to be a vote for traditional family values, lower taxes, and other business friendly policies. Hester scored quite the upset, especially since big business (a big force in this district) was behind Summers. There is no Democratic candidate, and Hester is now Senator-elect.

State Senate District 2, Green: (R+16): Kim Hendren, Safe Republican
88% White, 8% Hispanic

*Thurston 70% (R), Bryant 30% (D)
*Martin 68% (R), O’Brien 32% (D)

*Darr 69% (R), Broadway 31% (D)
*Beebe 51% (D), Keet 47% (R)
*Boozman 73% (R), Lincoln 23% (D)

Republican Senate Leader Kim Hendren is retiring this year due to term limits. Hendren, and his inability to corral his caucus into effective messaging is part of the reason why Arkansas Republicans have been so weak for so long. Hendren’s district includes Gravette, Bella Vista, Siloam Springs, and Prairie Grove. In the process, he takes in a lot of mountains, forests, and natural wilderness.

Hendren's replacement is relation Jim Hendren, who waltzes into this seat. There is no Democratic candidate.

State Senate District 3, Purple: (R+14): Cecile Bledsoe (R), Safe Republican
68% White, 26% Hispanic

*Thurston 67% (R), Bryant 32% (D)
*Martin 66% (R), O’Brien 34% (D)

*Darr 68% (R), Broadway 32% (D)
*Beebe 54% (D), Keet 44% (R)
*Boozman 72% (R), Lincoln 24% (D)

Cecil Bledsoe, a Republican, will continue to represent Rogers, parts of Lowell, and the natural wilderness of the Ozarks.

State Senate District 4, Red: (D+5.7): Sue Madison, Safe Democratic
85% White, 6% Hispanic

*Thurston 47% (R), Bryant 53% (D)
*Martin 46% (R), O’Brien 54% (D)

*Darr 46% (R), Broadway 54% (D)
*Beebe 69% (D), Keet 28% (R)
*Boozman 50% (R), Lincoln 44% (D)

This district is centered on the reliably liberal city of Fayetteville, a bright spot for the Democrats in ever changing Arkansas. It’s speaks to just how bad Blanche Lincoln was of a candidate that she could not win this district. Many liberal educated voters who voted in 2008 did not in 2010; this is a district where turnout was the reason behind low Democratic turnout and not realignment.

State Representative Uvalde Lindsey will run to replace Sue Madison, who has constantly been one of the most liberal Senators. There is no Republican candidate.


State Senate District 5, Yellow: (R+8.7): Randy Laverty and Ruth Whitaker, Safe Republican
93% White, 5% Hispanic

*Thurston 60% (R), Bryant 40% (D)
*Martin 62% (R), O’Brien 38% (D)

*Darr 61% (R), Broadway 39% (D)
*Beebe 59% (D), Keet 38% (R)
*Boozman 68% (R), Lincoln 27% (D)

Democrat Randy Laverty and Republican Ruth Whitaker are the current incumbents in this district and are term limited. This district incorporates part of Carroll, Madison, Johnson, Franklin, Washington, and Sebastian County.

State Representative Bryan King, a Republican, won the primary over Businessman Bill Coleman. King is very conservative. He is the author of the Voter ID proposal that is languishing in the House because Democratic leaders have refused to bring it up. Democrats have no candidate.


State Senate District 6, Aqua: (R+0.6): No incumbent, Tossup
90% White, 10% Hispanic

*Thurston 52% (R), Bryant 48% (D)
*Martin 52% (R), O’Brien 48% (D)

*Darr 53% (R), Broadway 47% (D)
*Beebe 66% (D), Keet 32% (R)
*Boozman 57% (R), Lincoln 34% (D)

Mike Beebe drew this district for Former State Representative and moderate Democrat John Paul Wells of Paris. This district stretches through nominal Republican and Democratic areas of East Central Arkansas taking in Booneville and Clarksville. Wells will need to run up the margins in Paris, in the hispanic areas of Yell County, and not do pathetic in Franklin County.  Wells has a big geographic advantage on his side, and that definitely helps in local races

Republican State Representative Gary Stubblefield had to be coaxed into this race by Lieutenant Governor Mark Darr. My personal feeling is that Stubblefield is not all that invested in this race. Wells really wants a Senate seat. He lost badly in a much more Republican district in 2010, and is campaigning hard this time. However, it is early. One warning sign for the Democrats is that Mike Beebe has not spoken that favorably about this race being a potential pickup.

Stubblefield has raised $33K, spent $2K and has $30K in the bank. John Paul Wells has raised $34K, spent $15K and has $19K in the bank.


State Senate District 7, Gray: (R+11.8): Bill Pritchard, Likely Republican
70% White, 29% Hispanic

*Thurston 66% (R), Bryant 34% (D)
*Martin 64% (R), O’Brien 36% (D)

*Darr 65% (R), Broadway 35% (D)
*Beebe 55% (D), Keet 43% (R)
*Boozman 69% (R), Lincoln 27% (D)

Incumbent State Senator Bill Pritchard's old district exploded in population, so the new version of this district compacted to take in only Elkins and Springdale. Pritchard decided to run for reelection and and was challenged by Republican State Representative Jon Woods.

The race was extremely nasty. Pritchard attacked Jon Woods for appearing in a rock music video, which apparently violated Christian values. Woods attacked Pritchard for voting for 559 million dollars in tax increases, for not being for open carry of firearms and for not supporting legislation that targets contractors who hire illegal immigrants.

In the end, Woods pulled off an upset over Pritchard. Pritchard was poised to become a Senior Republican in the Senate, but in the end the voters went with the conservative alternative.

Woods will face Democratic candidate Diana Gonzales Worthen in the general election. While this Northwestern based seat is tough territory, Worthen is running a stellar campaign focused on good government ethics, social media, and economic investment. Worthen will probably lose, but she hopefully will work on Hispanic voter registration and expanding the Democratic platform to the Northwest for future candidates. Hispanics are 29% of this district, but they are largely unregistered. Worthen will probably attack Jon Woods for planning to build a time machine on the government's dollar. Woods will attack Worthen for being extremely liberal.

Worthen has raised $31K, spent $15K, and has $16K in the bank.
Woods has raised $17K, spent $491 dollars and is $26K in debt.


State Senate District 8, Bluish-Purple: (R+11.7): Jake Files, Safe Republican
82% White

*Thurston 66% (R), Bryant 34% (D)
*Martin 66% (R), O’Brien 34% (D)

*Darr 65% (R), Broadway 35% (D)
*Beebe 60% (D), Keet 39% (R)
*Boozman 75% (R), Lincoln 24% (D)

Fort Smith is a very conservative city. Republican Jake Files’ district is renovated by the map, as he adds areas in middle Sebastian County like Greenwood, and removes the minority areas of (the only good potential opponent) Democratic State Representative Tracy Pennartz’s district. Coincidence? Files also called the state legislative redistricting process “fair.” and had some kind of communication with Beebe in how his district should be redrawn. Files is a potential contender for a higher office at some point.


State Senate District 9, Light Blue: (R+8.0): Bruce Holland, Likely Republican
75% White, 15% Hispanic

*Thurston 59% (R), Bryant 41% (D)
*Martin 61% (R), O’Brien 38% (D)

*Darr 61% (R), Broadway 39% (D)
*Beebe 62% (D), Keet 36% (R)
*Boozman 69% (R), Lincoln 26% (D)

Incumbent Republican Bruce Holland was really shoved around in redistricting. Holland drops most of his old district and comes out with Van Buren, Barling, Mansfield, Waldron and a tiny sliver (the liberal part) of Fort Smith. He won his primary over RINO Republican Rick Green.

The general election will feature Holland against State Representative Tracy Pennartz. Pennartz represents the northern tip of Fort Smith, which has a nice minority population. She doesn't have that much experience running in rural areas. However, she might be able to capitalize on Holland being convicted in court of evading a Sheriff Deputy for twenty miles ina high speed chase. Holland was sentenced to400 hours of community service and had to pay $890 in fines.

Mike Beebe might sense an opening here as he has already held an event with Pennartz.

Pennartz has raised $8K, spent $824 dollars and has $27K in the bank.
Holland has raised $4K, spent $13K, and has $3K in the bank.


State Senate District 10, Pink: (R+1.5): Larry Teague, Safe Democrat
80% White, 12% Black

*Thurston 53% (R), Bryant 47% (D)
*Martin 51% (R), O’Brien 49% (D)

*Darr 54% (R), Broadway 46% (D)
*Beebe 65% (D), Keet 33% (R)
*Boozman 62% (R), Lincoln 32% (D)

Democrat Larry Teague, who has an iron grip on his Southwestern Arkansas district and legislates in the form of a populist conservative, is the incoming President Pro Tempore of the Arkansas Senate. Arkansas elects the top leader two years before the session begins. Teague’s district expands to take in some rural and extremely conservative areas of northern White County, fills in the lines along Polk County, and takes in Montgomery County. Teague’s popularity comes from constituent services in rural and poor small towns and from Hope, Nashville, and Murfreesboro.

All 15 Senate Republicans were listed as hosts at a fundraiser Teague held in June of 2011. This is not the first time that Arkansas legislators have reached across party lines to help their friends (Arkansas is ruled by a conservative coalition rather than a state party). Republicans missed an opportunity to recruit an opponent here and give Teague a run for his money.

Instead, Teague doesn't have to worry about the general election and can deal with fundraising for other vulnerable Democrats.


State Senate District 11, Light Green: (R+4.9): Steve Harrelson, Tossup
71% White, 21% Black

*Thurston 56% (R), Bryant 44% (D)
*Martin 58% (R), O’Brien 41% (D)

*Darr 57% (R), Broadway 43% (D)
*Beebe 60% (D), Keet 38% (R)
*Boozman 64% (R), Lincoln 32% (D)

There’s not much you can do to maintain two southwestern Democratic districts - and as such, this one is highly vulnerable to takeover. Texarkana moved sharply toward the right last year, electing former highway chief and Republican Prissy Hickerson to the State House (the seat formally held by Incumbent Steve Harrelson).

Democrat Steve Harrelson, who moved from the House (where he was Majority Leader) to the Senate in 2010, has focused on getting rid of the grocery tax, and educational issues since getting elected. He is very conservative and has had some ethical issues, including going through a messy divorce.

What is the culture of this area like? Many people feel that this impoverished area has been neglected by politicians (who are solely serving unions or corporations) - namely Blanche and Obama, who are too interested in national Democratic interests. Harrelson will need a lot of ticket splitting to win.

I was skeptical that Republicans could find a candidate, but they did! Businessman Jimmy Hickey appeared right before the filing deadline and managed to raise $100K in a matter of a one month. That's very impressive for a Senate candidate! Hickey's fundraising has since slowed considerably, though. Harrelson has good community connections and has self funding capability. However, this is a district that was unstable for Democrats are best, and Hickey poses a serious threat to Harrelson.

Hickey has raised $12K (in the general), spent $1K and has $103K in the bank. Harrelson has not released his newest numbers.


State Senate District 12, Modest Blue: (D+4.7): Percy Malone, Safe Democratic
67% White, 29% Black

*Thurston 46% (R), Bryant 54% (D)
*Martin 47% (R), O’Brien 53% (D)

*Darr 47% (R), Broadway 53% (D)
*Beebe 69% (D), Keet 29% (R)
*Boozman 54% (R), Lincoln 40% (D)

Democrat Percy Malone is retiring because of term limits. Malone’s district takes in Magnolia, Arkadelphia, Gurdon, and Sheridan, while losing the northern Republicans areas of Clark County, and some of Ouachita County. Former State Representative Bruce Maloch, who retired because of term limits in the State House in 2010, is running for the Democrats. Maloch has been a Sunday school teacher at the First Baptist Church of Magnolia. He doesn’t exactly spark  fear in me, but Democrats seem pretty confident in him running.

Republicans missed a chance to recruit someone here, though this is a tough seat for them because of Arkadelphia.


State Senate District 13, Light Pink: (D+1.0): Mike Fletcher, Leans Democratic
88% White

*Thurston 52% (R), Bryant 48% (D)
*Martin 51% (R), O’Brien 49% (D)

*Darr 44% (R), Broadway 56% (D)
*Beebe 64% (D), Keet 33% (R)
*Boozman 60% (R), Lincoln 34% (D)

Incumbent Democrat Mike Fletcher’s district takes in Hot Springs, Malvern, Benton, and Bauxite. He loses the generally white Montgomery County for minorities in Hot Springs, and expands further into the deep red Little Rock suburbs. Malvern is home to several manufacturing companies. Fletcher was a member of the Arkansas State Police for 36 years prior to his election in 2010.

Fletcher will be challenged by local Republican Alan Clark.

Fletcher's seat is a cause for worry, since I can't see Saline County voting for any Democrat anymore. He is very popular in the Malvern area, so he'll need to pull big margins from there. I was really worried about this seat for a while, but take a look at the fundraising numbers.

Fletcher has raised $80K, spent $14K and has $65K in the bank (though I'm still waiting on an update.)
Clark has raised $3K, spent $2K and has $21K in the bank.


State Senate District 14, Brownish: (R+7.4): Bill Sample, Safe Republican
88% White

*Thurston 62% (R), Bryant 38% (D)
*Martin 59% (R), O’Brien 41% (D)

*Darr 58% (R), Broadway 42% (D)
*Beebe 59% (D), Keet 39% (R)
*Boozman 65% (R), Lincoln 29% (D)

Suburban Little Rock is the most wealthy part of the state, if one can use wealthy and Arkansas in the same sentence. Sample’s district takes in white areas of Hot Springs, and Hot Springs Village. Sample is an owner of a termite pest control company. Sample has a lot of new area to take in in Saline County, but he should be fine. Sample has sponsored a bill to make sure state governments can’t take guns away in events of emergencies like during Katrina.


State Senate District 15, Orange: (R+1.8): No incumbent, Tossup/Tilts Republican
89% White

*Thurston 54% (R), Bryant 46% (D)
*Martin 52% (R), O’Brien 48% (D)

*Darr 52% (R), Broadway 48% (D)
*Beebe 61% (D), Keet 37% (R)
*Boozman 60% (R), Lincoln 34% (D)

State Senate District 15 takes in Morrilton, Maumelle, and Perryville, stretching from Van Buren County, to suburban Pulaski County. This district is very politically divided - the few precincts from Pulaski and Faulkner County are very conservative, Van Buren and Perry are swing, and Conway is a Democratic county that Democrats (besides Lincoln) won by double digits in 2010. This district is typical in that Blue Dogs who supported Vic Snyder and Blanche Lincoln are now trending away from the Democratic Party. Tim Griffin is also trying to entrench himself in many of the small rural towns outside of Little Rock.

Former State Representative Johnny Hoyt is running for the Democrats. Hoyt ran for a similar looking seat in 2010 and lost. Hoyt won big in Conway County, and narrowly won Perry, while Jason Rapert, the Republican, won Van Buren County. All of the other strong Republican counties were moved out of the district. While Hoyt will do better in this district, I still don’t see how he can win. He will face off against Republican social conservative and State Representative David Sanders.

If Hoyt has one thing, it is a fundraising advantage. He has raised $2K, spent nothing, and has $61K in the bank. Sanders has raised $6K, spent $9K and has $25K in the bank.


State Senate District 16, Deep Green: (R+8.0): Michael Lamoureux, Safe Republican
91% White

*Thurston 60% (R), Bryant 40% (D)
*Martin 61% (R), O’Brien 39% (D)

*Darr 59% (R), Broadway 41% (D)
*Beebe 61% (D), Keet 37% (R)
*Boozman 61% (R), Lincoln 25% (D)

This extremely conservative white district takes in Russellville, and the mountainous Ozarks. Lamoureux is very popular in the Republican Senate caucus, and will likely be the President Pro Tempore if the Democrats lose control and Larry Teague steps down. Lamoureux is very popular and serves on many local councils and boards at home.


State Senate District 17, Dark Purple: (R+12.9): Johnny Key, Safe Republican
97% White

*Thurston 67% (R), Bryant 33% (D)
*Martin 67% (R), O’Brien 33% (D)

*Darr 66% (R), Broadway 34% (D)
*Beebe 57% (D), Keet 40% (R)
*Boozman 68% (R), Lincoln 24% (D)

Johnny Key, who was the author of the “Republican gerrymander” or the “least movement congressional redistricting plan” represents District 17, which covers Mountain Home and three counties in Northern Arkansas: Boone, Marion, and Baxter. This district is incredibly white, and will never support a Democrat unless on the scale of Mike Beebe. Key is safe.


State Senate District 18, Yellow: (R+8.0): Missy Irvin, Safe Republican
97% White

*Thurston 60% (R), Bryant 40% (D)
*Martin 57% (R), O’Brien 43% (D)

*Darr 59% (R), Broadway 41% (D)
*Beebe 59% (D), Keet 39% (R)
*Boozman 62% (R), Lincoln 30% (D)

Missy Irvin’s district becomes a lot safer as she loses most her current district (filled with moderate and conservative Democrats.) Irvin will be representing a new stretch of territory including Heber Springs, Mountain View, Marshall, and rural farmland in between. Irvin is for a great decrease in corporate taxes, an increase in funding for transportation, privatization, and increased research into alternative energy. Irvin is currently an employee at a Medical Clinic and has deep roots in sales and marketing in the community.

Irvin is being challenged by Democrat Zac White, who is running on "Regent Populus", a local ethics initiative. This was drawn to be a GOP vote sink. Independent Paul White is also running.

Irvin has raised $10K, spent $320 dollars and has $86K in the bank.
White has raised $7K, spent $2K and has $14K in the bank.


State Senate District 19, Grayish-Green: (R+0.1): David Wyatt, Tilts Democratic
95% White

*Thurston 52% (R), Bryant 48% (D)
*Martin 49% (R), O’Brien 51% (D)

*Darr 52% (R), Broadway 48% (D)
*Beebe 63% (D), Keet 34% (R)
*Boozman 56% (R), Lincoln 36% (D)

Democrat David Wyatt had a problem. His previous district included way too much of blood red White County (where no Democrat should ever represent), blood red Cleburne County, liberal Jackson County, and moderate Independence County. Wyatt gets a completely redrawn and much safer district centered on Batesville. I’ll defer to RRH’s Son of the South to describe this area’s geography:





Having visited Hardy (Sharp and Fulton Counties) and surrounding areas several times for family vacations and Boy Scout trips, I can say that it's a very white, conservative area that has a lot invested in the tourism industry, mostly for hunters, rafters, and people who just want to escape to the scenic hills for a while. If I had to guess, I would say that if the Spring River areas near the Missouri border aren't already Republican-leaning, they will be soon.
Wyatt is farmer and former judge in Independence County. Wyatt is generally socially conservative with a mixture of populism and moderate economic views. Turncoat representative Linda Collins Smith, who switched parties a while back is challenging Wyatt. Collins Smith is in my mind, not very intelligent. She has a huge relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group who wants to reduce governmental regulation, fight stricter environmental standards, and enact Voter ID legislation.

Nonetheless, Wyatt doesn't have broad name recognition here, and this district basically voted the way the state voted in 2010.

Wyatt has raised $1K, spent $949 dollars and has $26K in the bank. Collins Smith has raised $7K, spent nothing and has $7K in the bank.


State Senate District 20, Pink: (D+5.4): Robert Thompson, Likely-Safe Democratic
97% White

*Thurston 46% (R), Bryant 54% (D)
*Martin 48% (R), O’Brien 52% (D)

*Darr 45% (R), Broadway 55% (D)
*Beebe 70% (D), Keet 28% (R)
*Boozman 53% (R), Lincoln 42% (D)

As Democrats took a beating in Arkansas the last few years, Northeastern Arkansas has strayed from the trend. The extremely white and conservative Democratic Greene County supported Shane Broadway by 16 points in 2010, Pat O’Brien by 14 points, LJ Bryant by 14 points, and John Boozman by 0.17%. Elsewhere, this district takes in Pocahontas, and Walnut Ridge.

Robert Thompson is an extremely popular incumbent, the Majority Leader in the State Senate, a rising star in the Democratic Party, a potential candidate for Attorney General in 2014, and a potential candidate for governor.  Thompson resides in Paragould, a business hub of this district and has maintained significant support for his legislation addressing schools, sex abuse, and creation of Drug Courts. Thompson has served on the Paragould Rotary Club and is a member of other local activities. He has written two books, for which he received awards, one on debt slavery in Arkansas, and the other on Paul Van Dalsem, an Arkansas legislator.

Thompson has been named one of five promising legislative newcomers by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and one of 25 outstanding young professionals in northeast Arkansas. As a legislator, Thompson has combined moderate social positions with center-left economic positions. He's truly an amazing politician, and a rising star.

He's being challenged by Blake Johnson, who stands little chance of winning. The only question is whether Thompson can repeat his 2006 performance of scoring 70% of the vote.

Thompson is a wonderful fundraiser. He's raised $108K, spent $16K and has $92K in the bank. Johnson has raised $23K, spent $9K and has $14K in the bank.


State Senate District 21, Maroon: (D+2.4): Paul Bookout, Safe Democratic
79% White, 15% Black

*Thurston 50% (R), Bryant 50% (D)
*Martin 53% (R), O’Brien 47% (D)

*Darr 47% (R), Broadway 53% (D)
*Beebe 68% (D), Keet 30% (R)
*Boozman 56% (R), Lincoln 40% (D)

Jonesboro, the business center of East Arkansas, and home to Arkansas State University has started to move away from the Democrats. Nonetheless, Bookout, the current President Pro Tempore and remains popular. He is an owner of a funeral home in Jonesboro and will be moving to work as an administrative director for government affairs at St. Bernards Healthcare. No Republicans filed for this race.


State Senate District 22, Brown: (D+9.6): David Burnett, Safe Democratic
74% White, 22% Black

*Thurston 39% (R), Bryant 61% (D)
*Martin 44% (R), O’Brien 56% (D)

*Darr 43% (R), Broadway 57% (D)
*Beebe 72% (D), Keet 26% (R)
*Boozman 46% (R), Lincoln 49% (D)

Who is counting? This is the first district that Blanche Lincoln has won.

David Burnett’s district takes in Osceola, Blytheville, and Truman. The big changes are the addition of liberal areas of eastern Craighead County. Burnett is a former circuit judge. Burnett was part of the West Memphis Three case, denying new trials for two of the three convicted. Burnett currently serves on many boards, and other community groups. In the Senate, Burnett voted to not use cellphones in school zones and for pro-life legislation. This is a Safe Democratic seat though I kind of want Burnett to face a primary.


State Senate District 23, Light Blue: (D+10.1): Jim Luker, Safe Democratic
73% White, 23% Black

*Thurston 41% (R), Bryant 59% (D)
*Martin 42% (R), O’Brien 58% (D)

*Darr 42% (R), Broadway 58% (D)
*Beebe 74% (D), Keet 25% (R)
*Boozman 48% (R), Lincoln 48% (D)

Jim Luker, a Democrat, will retire because of term limits this year. This district takes in Wynne, Forrest City, Augusta, and Brinkley. Luker is very liberal on both economic issues and social issues. State Representative Jerry Brown is running on the Democratic side. Tommy Caubble was running here, but he died of a hear attack in his peach orchard (probably because of the record heat) on July 5th. I don't know if Republicans will replace him or not.


State Senate District 24, Deep Purple: (D+17.9): Jack Crumbly, Safe Democratic
40% White, 57% Black

*Thurston 35% (R), Bryant 65% (D)
*Martin 33% (R), O’Brien 67% (D)

*Darr 33% (R), Broadway 67% (D)
*Beebe 77% (D), Keet 21% (R)
*Boozman 35% (R), Lincoln 61% (D)

This seat is located in the Delta and is populated by rural blacks. It is extremely poor.

Crumbly announced his displeasure with the redistricting maps that came out last July. He thought his district needed more African Americans, though as you can tell, they still make up a significant majority here. He loudly complained about how the process had been conducted, and Mike Beebe did some revisions just for him. Then, this year, he decided to sue the state for dropping his black percentage in his district from 55% to 53%. Never mind that the Delta is losing African American population, and drawing tendrils to different areas to keep the Black vote high would likely cost the Democrats 1-3 seats, and probably the Majority. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Crumbly made political threats about opposing McDaniel in 2014 if his district was not changed.

In the primary, Crumbly lost to White Democrat Keith Ingram. Ingram is a well known name in Crittenden County (West Memphis). He's just as liberal as Crumbly on most issues except the environment.

Ingram is a monster fundraiser. He has raised $176K, spent $199K and has $8K in the bank. There are no Republicans running here.


State Senate District 25, Pink: (D+22.9): Stephanie Flowers, Safe Democratic
39% White, 59% Black

*Thurston 29% (R), Bryant 71% (D)
*Martin 26% (R), O’Brien 73% (D)

*Darr 28% (R), Broadway 72% (D)
*Beebe 81% (D), Keet 17% (R)
*Boozman 33% (R), Lincoln 64% (D)

Stephanie Flowers takes in rural blacks in the Delta and Pine Bluff, one of the main vote hubs for Democrats in the state. Flowers is very liberal and progressive and a private attorney.  She beat back State Representative Efrem Elliott in the primary. There are no Republicans running here.


State Senate District 26, Gray: (D+8.3): Jim Jeffress, Leans Democratic
66% White, 28% Black

*Thurston 42% (R), Bryant 58% (D)
*Martin 42% (R), O’Brien 58% (D)

*Darr 45% (R), Broadway 55% (D)
*Beebe 72% (D), Keet 27% (R)
*Boozman 51% (R), Lincoln 46% (D)

I’m not sure the word “Republican elected official” is known here. This is a Delta seat, where conservative white Democrat Jim Jeffress is extremely popular. He has connected through social media, and has made a name focusing on education issues.  This is a district where Democrats are normally overwhelmingly favored; turnout among small town African Americans was down in 2010, and white poor Democrats have remained happy with the investments that legislative leaders have brought to this region (The Speaker of the State House, Robert Moore is from this area and has a lot of clout.) This area is one that had relied on earmarks, federal money, and has people making the minimum wage or below the minimum wage.

Jeffress’s district takes in Warren, Arkansas City, and Monticello. This district expands in northern Desha County, and eastern Cleveland County.

Democrat Eddie Cheatham won the primary. Cheatham faces Leader of Akin Industries and Republican Fred Michael Akin the general election. Akin is a strong recruit, and took advantage of the Cheatham primary to start building up local Republican organizations. I am now worried about this race and have moved it from Safe Democratic to Lean Democratic.

Cheatham has not reported his latest fundraising totals. Akin reported $69K, spending $29K and having $72K in the bank.

 Potential Democratic candidates include the State House Speaker Robert Moore, State Representative Eddie Cheatham, former State Representative Greg Reep, and former State Representative Johnny Bolin. The Democratic primary will be interesting - each candidate brings their own craft of politics and constituent projects to the district.


State Senate District 27, Blue-Green: (D+1.6): Gene Jeffress and Jerry Taylor, Leans Democratic
64% White, 33% Black

*Thurston 49% (R), Bryant 51% (D)
*Martin 49% (R), O’Brien 51% (D)

*Darr 51% (R), Broadway 49% (D)
*Beebe 65% (D), Keet 33% (R)
*Boozman 58% (R), Lincoln 37% (D)

Here's a district that shifts from Lean R to Lean D.

This is one of the districts that Beebe did not do a good job in. It’s inexcusable for a district in the lowlands of Southern Arkansas to be a Darr district. Anyway, Gene Jeffress (running for AR-04) and Jerry Taylor, both Democratic incumbents are retiring because of term limits. This district includes El Dorado, and the historical African American town of Camden. This district includes a lot of rice growers as well.

Democrats really lucked out when Matt Shepherd, a Republican who broke the trend and got himself elected to the State House in South Arkansas in 2010, decided to run for reelection to the State House. Unknown Businessman Henry Frisby is running. He does have a geographical advantage (most of the population is in Union County, where Frisby lives). Our candidate, State Representative Bobby Pierce is close to the Democratic establishment, understands rural values, and has a history of performing well in a tough state House district. He should be able to overperform in Jefferson County and the northern areas of the district.

Frisby has raised $3K, spent $1K and has $16K in the bank.
Pierce has raised $18K, spent $457 dollars and has $17K in the bank.

State Senate District 28, Dull Pink: (D+6.1): Jonathan Dismang, Tossup
80% White, 15% Black

*Thurston 47% (R), Bryant 52% (D)
*Martin 45% (R), O’Brien 55% (D)

*Darr 46% (R), Broadway 54% (D)
*Beebe 72% (D), Keet 27% (R)
*Boozman 53% (R), Lincoln 43% (D)

Beebe hates Jonathan Dismang, apparently. Dismang was the only Republican placed in a Democratic district. Dismang’s district contains Searcy, Beebe,  and Stuggart. I’m wary of this district because White County turnout usually exceeds the rural moderate Democrats in Arkansas County, Lonoke County, Woodruff County, Monroe County, and Prairie County. White County is a “dry county,” is home to very conservative Harding University, and is perhaps the most religious county in the state. (Can you get that title in Arkansas?)

Democrats have a solid recruit in Tiffany Rogers might, who will need to do really good in the rural impoverished farmlands to offset Dismang’s popularity in Searcy. She has been campaigning Searcy is also one of the more well to do towns (again, if that is possible) in Arkansas. A recent poll had Dismang leading 35-32.

Beebe and the Democratic establishment say this will be one of the marquee races of the cycle. Beebe has already been extensively supporting Rogers.

Dismang has raised $66K, spent $565 dollars and has $66K in the bank. Rogers has not updated her totals.


State Senate District 29, Dull Green: (R+12.8): Eddie Joe Williams, Safe Republican
93% White, 2% Black

*Thurston 68% (R), Bryant 32% (D)
*Martin 62% (R), O’Brien 38% (D)

*Darr 63% (R), Broadway 37% (D)
*Beebe 52% (D), Keet 46% (R)
*Boozman 73% (R), Lincoln 23% (D)

Talk of a Republican pack.... This district extends from Little Rock through 80-20 Republicans areas in Cabot, and into White County. If you are wondering why this area is so conservative, and why it never belongs in a congressional district designed to elect Democrats (Ugh!), remember desegregation of Little Rock?. Cabot is extremely white, and is one of the best-off areas in Arkansas. Eddie Joe Williams will have no problem here. Williams is a former mayor of Cabot and very conservative.


State Senate District 30, Pink: (D+27.1): Linda Chesterfield, Safe Democrat
37% White, 56% Black

*Thurston 25% (R), Bryant 75% (D)
*Martin 21% (R), O’Brien 79% (D)

*Darr 22% (R), Broadway 77% (D)
*Beebe 82% (D), Keet 17% (R)
*Boozman 27% (R), Lincoln 69% (D)

We’ve arrived in Little Rock! Chesterfield, a liberal African American Democrat... Nothing more to say.

State Senate District 31, White/Yellow: (D+31.2): Joyce Elliott, Safe Democrat
28% White, 62% Black

*Thurston 21% (R), Bryant 79% (D)
*Martin 18% (R), O’Brien 82% (D)

*Darr 18% (R), Broadway 82% (D)
*Beebe 85% (D), Keet 14% (R)
*Boozman 22% (R), Lincoln 75% (D)

Joyce Elliott returned to the State Legislature this year, and after her bad run for congress last year, is doing wonderful things here. Elliott beat back a primary from corporate Democrat Fred Allen and has no Republican challenge.


State Senate District 32, Red: (D+9.7): David Johnson, Likely Democrat
75% White, 18% Black

*Thurston 45% (R), Bryant 55% (D)
*Martin 37% (R), O’Brien 63% (D)

*Darr 40% (R), Broadway 60% (D)
*Beebe 69% (D), Keet 29% (R)
*Boozman 48% (R), Lincoln 49% (D)

Not just the African American parts of Little Rock are liberal. This district encompasses middle class areas of Western Little Rock. David Johnson is one of the most progressive Democrats (sitting in a fairly white seat) in the state legislature on fiscal and social matters. Johnson is fairly popular among both whites, and blacks, and this district had low turnout last year. James Sorvillo is challenging Johnson, but he is not regarded as running a serious campaign as of yet.

Johnson has raised $53K, spent $3K and has $49K in the bank. Sorvillo has raised $23K, spent $8K and has $14K in the bank.

One thing to note: This district (because of split precincts), is probably more like D+10 or 11.


State Senate District 33, Blue: (R+3.9): Jeremy Hutchinson, Safe R
88% White

*Thurston 60% (R), Bryant 40% (D)
*Martin 56% (R), O’Brien 44% (D)

*Darr 43% (R), Broadway 57% (D)
*Beebe 58% (D), Keet 41% (R)
*Boozman 67% (R), Lincoln 29% (D)

Shane Broadway was a well-liked popular Democrat in this district, which takes in Little Rock, Benton, and Bauxite, before running for Lieutenant Governor in 2010. So that skews the numbers a little bit in favor of the Democrats. Hutchinson shouldn’t have a lot to worry about as he gets settled into his semi-wealthy suburban Arkansas district. He is very conservative. Broadway cannot regain this seat because of term limits.


State Senate District 34, Green: (D+1.8): Mary Ann Salmon, Leans Democratic
72% White, 20% Black

*Thurston 46% (R), Bryant 54% (D)
*Martin 45% (R), O’Brien 55% (D)

*Darr 48% (R), Broadway 52% (D)
*Beebe 64% (D), Keet 35% (R)
*Boozman 58% (R), Lincoln 38% (D)

Rightly or wrongly, the Democratic Party’s perceived movement to the left hurt them in suburban North Little Rock, home to District 34, in 2010. The incumbent Democrat, Mary Ann Salmon is retiring because of term limits. North Little Rock is the tossup part of Pulaski County every year. This city is becoming ever more important for a major national Democratic candidate to win every year, in part because the rural areas are slowly killing them. Joyce Elliot discovered that you can’t win Arkansas’s 2nd congressional district unless you make an active effort outside of inner-city Little Rock last year.

Salmon has maintained a mainly liberal profile on both social and economic issues, with a few more moderate positions. Salmon was an appointment director for Clinton in the 1990s.

State Representative Barry Hyde is running for the Democrats. Hyde is a conservative Democrat. State Representative Jane English is running for the Republicans. English and Hyde have been hitting each other with ethic complaints.

Hyde has the advantage here. He has raised $125K, spent $46K and has $80K in the bank. English has raised $59K, spent $25K and has $34K in the bank.

Note: This district is probably more like D+2 or 3 if you take into account split precincts.

State Senate District 35, Purple: (R+2.1): Gilbert Baker, Jason Rapert, EPIC Tossup
80% White, 13% Black

*Thurston 54% (R), Bryant 46% (D)
*Martin 54% (R), O’Brien 46% (D)

*Darr 53% (R), Broadway 47% (D)
*Beebe 61% (D), Keet 37% (R)
*Boozman 60% (R), Lincoln 36% (D)

The candidates are set here and most every Arkansas politico is calling this the most epic state legislative race of 2012 that will decide who controls the State Senate.

Gilbert Baker, a Republican Senate leader, is retiring from the Senate due to term limits.

Jason Rapert, the incumbent Republican, represented a sprawling rural district in West Arkansas until redistricting. Rapert, who is perhaps the most conservative member of the Senate, got destroyed by Beebe. His district was splintered, and his home ended up in this mostly new district centered on Conway.

Democratic State Representative Linda Tyler won election to a fairly Republican House district in 2008. She then survived the 2010 onslaught, defeating her Republican opponent by 269 votes. Tyler has connections to the Faulkner community, serving in the library, working in health interests, and working at Acxiom Corporation.

This seat is also promising for Democrats. We need to build up a future base of support in the state and new business in Faulkner could be the place to do it.

With the inclusion of many more Republicans in the state legislature this year, anti-abortion bills started racking up on the Senate floor. Tyler, takes a pro-choice position (a very dangerous position in this part of Arkansas), and as chair of the Public Health Committee, defeated 10 anti-abortion bills during this last session. Naturally, Republicans will zero in on that position, especially considering the fact that Tyler is pro-choice in a fairly conservative city. Tyler has had consistent feuds with organized labor and supports right to work legislation. (She does not support card check.) The AFL-CIO was so mad at her that they endorsed the Republican in last year’s State House race. Because of Rapert's bad record, they are endorsing Tyler this year.

Rapert will hopefully be able to capitalize on Democratic groups mistrust of Tyler, and will try to nationalize the word “Democrat” and link Tyler to Obama. Tyler is also not extremely anti-Obamacare, something that she will need to be to win.

Rapert (a former financial advisor) will be hit on his bills to lower taxes on just corporations, tax cuts on utility bills for corporations, fracturing regulation, a loan shark bill, transparency in his taxpayer subsidized non-profit and perhaps, and drug testing of unemployment recipients. Rightly or wrongly, Tyler will try to link Rapert to being obsessed with helping corporations and not the Middle Class. 


Recently, both sides have attacked the other as not having suitable economic plans. Rapert has accused Tyler of a liberal economic agenda that will increase spending and kill jobs and Tyler has accused Rapert of not offering any plan to create jobs. This is one race where nationalization is bound to occur.

A recent poll for Rapert had him up 46-36, though I think the race is probably closer than that.

Tyler has raised $102K, spent $38K and has $69K in the bank. Beebe and McDaniel are both going to be holding events for her. Rapert has raised $103K, spent $9K and has $94K in the bank.  

Poll

Will the Democrats control the Arkansas Senate in 2013?

11%5 votes
18%8 votes
15%7 votes
22%10 votes
13%6 votes
18%8 votes

| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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