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