Election Day 2015 is tomorrow, but in two states (Alabama and Arkansas), the candidate filing period began today for the 2016 elections. In Alabama, both state senators and state representatives serve four-year terms and are elected in non-presidential years, so there will be no state legislative races held next year. However in Arkansas, all 100 seats in the State House of Representatives are up for election, along with half of the 35 seats in the State Senate. I’ll be providing updates about candidate filing for these races right up to the filing deadline of next Monday, November 9th, at 3 pm Central.
It is amazing that just before the 2008 elections, the party composition of the Arkansas State Senate was 27 Democrats and only 8 Republicans. In just three election cycles it has completely flipped, as Republicans gained an incredible 16 seats and now hold a 24-11 advantage.
Here are the highlights from the first day:
- In SD #27 in south central Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Bobby Pierce has already drawn a Republican challenger, attorney Trent Garner. Sen. Pierce won election to this seat in 2012 by less than 300 votes out of 31,000 cast, so a general election challenger is hardly a surprise.
- Similarly, a Republican incumbent already knows she will have a Democratic opponent. In 2012, a pair of State Representatives squared off in SD #34 in the Little Rock area, with Republican Jane English defeating Democrat Barry Hyde by less than 300 votes out of 36,000 ballots cast (50.4%-49.6%). Democratic attorney Joe Woodson has already filed to face Sen. English in 2016.
- Republican State Senator Jon Woods has a primary opponent, County Commissioner Sharon Lloyd, in his Fayetteville-area SD #7 seat in the northwestern part of the state. In 2012, Sen. Woods won his first term by narrowly defeating incumbent GOP Sen. Bill Pritchard, 52%-48%, so perhaps Mrs. Lloyd believes that support for the conservative incumbent is not universal in the district. This is a very Republican area, so there is little chance that the GOP will lose this seat, regardless of who wins in the primary.
As the candidate filing period continues, I also expect the following incumbents to draw challengers from the opposing party:
- SD #12: Sen. Bruce Maloch (D)
- SD #13: Sen. Alan Clark (R)
- SD #21: John Cooper (R)
- SD #23: Ron Caldwell (R)
SD #28: Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang (R)