LITTLE ROCK — Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross easily secured their parties’ nominations for governor on Tuesday, defeating lesser-known and less well funded primary challengers.
Ross defeated substitute teacher Lynette Bryant, while Hutchinson defeated businessman Curtis Coleman. At 11:45 p.m. with 46 of 75 counties reported, unofficial election results from the secretary of state’s office showed Hutchinson with 73 percent of the vote in his race and Ross with 85 percent of the vote in his.
The former congressmen said they were looking forward to the general election race.
“The general election campaign began at 7:30 this evening, right here. I’m not wasting any time,” Ross told the Arkansas News Bureau. “I look forward to taking my positive vision and my plan for Arkansas’ future directly to the voters in all 75 counties over the next five months.”
Ross said he wants to be known as the education governor.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in Arkansas, but we’ve still got a long way to go, and I think education is the key to improving our standing,” he said.
Hutchinson told the Arkansas News Bureau he believes his primary win “puts us in a very strong position as we look to the fall and what we know will be a very hotly contested contest.”
He said he wants to be known for creating jobs and economic growth.
“There will be great differences from Mr. Ross in terms of his record of new government programs versus my record of supporting the private sector and tax cuts that spur economic growth,” Hutchinson said.
Coleman said he is throwing his support to Hutchinson and encourages his supporters to do the same.
In the Republican primary race for the 2nd District congressional seat, Little Rock banker French Hill was the apparent winner with 55 percent of the vote at 11:45 p.m. State Rep. Ann Clemmer, R-Benton, had 23 percent and retired Army Col. Conrad Reynolds had 22 percent. Hill will face Democrat Patrick Henry Hayes in November.
In the Republican primary race for the 4th District Congressional seat, state Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, was the apparent winner with 55 percent of the vote over Hot Springs businessman Tommy Moll at 11:45 p.m. Westerman will face Democrat James Lee Witt in November.
U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, easily defeated state Reps. Debra Hobbs, R-Rogers, and Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. At 11:45 p.m. the secretary of state’s office was reporting that Griffin had 64 percent of the vote, Hobbs had 16 percent and Mayberry had 20.5 percent. Griffin will face state Democrat John Burkhalter in November.
“I appreciate the support and encouragement I have received from my fellow Arkansans,” Griffin, who was in Washington on Tuesday night, said in a statement. “Voters in Arkansas are responding favorably to our commonsense conservative ideas that will grow good-paying jobs through simpler, fairer tax laws and improved education to equip a highly skilled workforce.”
In the Republican primary for attorney general, no candidate had more than 50 percent of the vote by 11:45 p.m. The secretary of state’s office reported that Little Rock lawyer Leslie Rutledge had 47 percent of the vote and Little Rock lawyer David Sterling had 39 percent, while North Little Rock lawyer Patricia Nation trailed with 14 percent.
The GOP primary winner will face state Rep. Nate Steel, D-Nashville, in November.
In the Republican primary for state treasurer, Saline County Clerk Dennis Milligan led state Rep. Duncan Baird, R-Lowell, at 11:45 p.m. with 54 percent of the vote. The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Karen Sealy Garcia in November.
State Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, won the Republican nomination for state auditor, defeating Ken Yang of Benton. At 11:45 p.m. Lea had 68 percent of the vote. She will face Democrat Regina Stewart Hampton in November.
In the race for the State Supreme Court seat being vacated by retiring Justice Donald Corbin, state Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne led Little Rock lawyer Tim Cullen with 52 percent of the vote at 11:45 p.m.
Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race was overshadowed by the contested primary races, but U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark, and challenger U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, both of whom drew no primary opponent, issued statements Tuesday looking ahead to the general election matchup.
“I’m humbled by the support we’re already seeing from every corner of our state, and I look forward to a spirited campaign about who voters can trust to put Arkansas first,” Pryor said.
Cotton said, “Now that the general election has officially begun, I look forward to a spirited race with Sen. Mark Pryor. We will run and win on the issues in this campaign.”
Tuesday’s election was the first statewide test of Arkansas’ new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. At the Dunbar Recreation Center in Little Rock, voters’ reaction to the new requirement was mixed.
“I think it’s necessary. I think it’s appropriate,” said Sean Porch, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.
Nick Paal, a psychologist, called requiring voters to show photo ID “a bad idea.”
“I think there are a lot of people who aren’t going to vote because they don’t have one or don’t think they have one or can’t find one,” he said.
The law has been ruled unconstitutional by a Pulaski County circuit judge but remains in effect because the judge’s ruling has been stayed pending an appeal.