Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Two Democratic candidates for the state's 4th Congressional District will face each other in a runoff for the chance to compete against Republican Tom Cotton, who secured his party's nomination Tuesday.
In the Democratic primary, well-funded attorney Q. Byrum Hurst of Hot Springs lagged behind long-serving state Sen. Gene Jeffress of Louann. D.C. Morrison of Little Rock also ran.
With 858 of 859 precincts reporting, the unofficial results for the Democratic contest were:
Jeffress ....................... 21,867 Hurst ......................... 19,594 Morrison ....................13,523
Hurst, a Hot Springs lawyer and evangelist, got into the race at the last minute but raised more than eight times as much money as his opponents combined. Jeffress, a longtime state senator, ran a largely selffunded, mostly grass-roots campaign within his Senate district and didn’t run television ads.
“I have been humbled by the outpouring of support I have received from voters across the district, and I look forward to all of the votes being counted,” Hurst said in a written statement.
Hurst campaign manager Nicole Dorris said Hurst would not comment further until final results were in.
Jeffress said at 9:30 p.m. he had gotten the results he had hoped for.
“We just feel overwhelmed tonight that our message got out,” he said. “We traveled 45,000 miles and we’ve seen a lot of folks.”
Jeffress said, at the beginning of the campaign, that he didn’t want to run a campaign driven by raising money. Jeffress reported raising $21,500, according to the Federal Election Commission. Hurst raised more than $150,000, according to the FEC.
Morrison, who had a failed primary bid in 2010 for U.S. Senate, does not own property or a home in the district. The U.S. Constitution does not require a candidate to live in the district he wants to represent as long as he lives within the state.
Morrison trailed throughout the night.
The district ranges from Ashley County across the southern half of the state and extends up to Madison County in Northwest Arkansas. With 33 counties, it is the largest of the state’s four congressional districts.
Mike Ross of Prescott has held the seat for more than a decade. He announced in July that he would not seek a seventh term and has since said he plans to leave politics once his term ends early next year.
Cotton of Dardanelle, who raised more than $1 million, held off former congressional candidate and aide to ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, Beth Anne Rankin of Magnolia.
A third candidate, Marine Lt. Col. John Cowart of Texarkana, entered the race in January, months behind his two opponents and raised far less than $100,000.
Cotton told supporters at the Austin Hotel in Hot Springs that Rankin and Cowart had called him to concede. He said that he will run his general election campaign the same way he operated in the primary.
“There is no challenge we cannot overcome by having faith in our founding principles,” he said.
To avoid a runoff, a candidate must receive 50 percent plus one vote. The runoff will be June 12.
With 858 of 859 precincts reporting, the unofficial results for the Republican contest were:
Cotton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20,308 Rankin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13,284 Cowart. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,934
Cotton, a former Army captain and attorney, has held a dominating fundraising advantage since last fall, much of it from out of state, but was a political novice who had recently returned to the state after years away.
Rankin, who challenged Ross for the seat in 2010 but lost with 40.15 percent of the vote, had hoped to capitalize on her previous campaign in the district, but saw her lead shrink in polls over the past few months.
Rankin said she endorsed Cotton when she conceded the race Tuesday night.
“This is a Republican year, this is an exciting compelling moment for the 4th District,” she said by phone. “I think Republicans all around the 4th District are ready to have their conservative views represented.”
Rankin reported to the Federal Election Commission that she raised about $400,000, mostly within the state.
Green Party candidate Joshua Drake of Hot Springs was nominated at his party’s convention. Libertarian candidate Robert “Bobby” Tullis of Mineral Springs also was nominated to run at his party’s convention. Their names will be on the Nov. 6 ballot along with whichever candidates win the runoffs.