Jones faces pro-Trump, GOP nominee Sarah Sanders Huckabee in the fall general election; Black Democrat candidates seeking Arkansas seats in Congress also make history
Arkansas Delta Informer Staff – PINE BLUFF – May 25, 2022 – Pine Bluff native Chris Jones made history in Tuesday night’s preferential primary as the first African American selected by voters as the gubernatorial candidate for a major party.
Three Black candidates in the Democratic Party running for Congress also make history after easily winning their races to represent Arkansas in Washington, D.C., a first for the Natural State.
But the highlight of Tuesday night was Jones’ historic victory in the Democratic primary, setting up a showdown with the presumptive GOP nominee Sarah Sanders Huckabee, the former press secretary for ex-President Donald Trump and the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Another Pine Bluff native, Ricky Dale Harrington, will also be in the general election contest for governor on Nov. 8 as the Libertarian Party candidate.
With 96% of the ballots in, the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office’s unofficial results shows that Jones won 70% of the votes in the Democratic primary, winning 66,324 out of the 94,110 votes cast. Another Black candidate for governor, Anthony Bland of Hot Springs, finished well back in second out of the other five candidates with only 8970 votes.
In the Republican primary, where 364,222 votes were cast, Sanders won 83.16% or 287,905 of the ballots for an easy victory over former conservative radio host Doc Washburn.
In other key statewide races, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin ran away with the GOP race for attorney general with over 85% of the vote against Pine Bluff native Leon Jones Jr., brother of the Democratic Party’s choice for governor. He will run against the long Democratic Party’s nominee Jesse Gibson of Little Rock and write-in candidate Gerhard Langguth in the fall election.
In other statewide down-ballot constitutional races, current AG Leslie Rutledge ran away with the six-person GOP primary race for lieutenant governor with 54% of the ballots cast. Rutledge, who earlier said that the part-time lieutenant governor’s position was not her cup of tea, will face off against the Democratic Party nominee candidate Kelly Krout of Lowell and Libertarian candidate Frank Gilbert of Little Rock in the fall.
Incumbent Secretary of State John Thursday, who oversees Arkansas elections, will be back in office after 72% of the voters selected him in the GOP primary over challenger Eddie Joe Williams, a former state senator from Cabot. He will run against Democrat Anna Beth Gorman in the Nov. 8 general election after she beat Joshua Price with nearly 59% of the votes.
Republican Mark Lowery, a state representative from Maumelle, easily won the GOP primary for State Treasurer as the state’s chief fiscal officer. In the Democratic primary, Pam Whitaker was the lone Democrat candidate on the ticket to be the state’s new CFO. Lowery, also the author of the several new Voter ID laws now on the books, easily beat former state Sen. Matt Pitsch of Fort Smith with nearly 75% of the votes in the GOP primary after jumping out of the Secretary of State’s race earlier this year.
Lowery will be on the November ticket as the state’s CFO even though he has a shoddy history of taking care of his own personal finances, such as failure to pay back taxes, facing garnishments and liens from credit card companies and debt collectors, and filing late or incorrect campaign finance reports.
Black women power Democratic primary
In the congressional races, all the Republican incumbent lawmakers in Arkansas that serve in the U.S. House and Senate won the primary contests for their congressional seats. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers, Arkansas senior senator, fought back all GOP challengers for his U.S. Senate seat with a run-off proof 58% of the vote. In the Democratic primary, Natalie James of Little Rock also made history as the Black female candidate for U.S. Senate in Arkansas with 58% of the votes. Former Pine Bluff Councilman Jack Foster was well back in last in the three-person race with 15% of the ballot, or 13690 votes.
In races for the U.S. House, incumbents Reps. French Hill of Little Rock of the redrawn 2nd Congressional District, Rick Crawford of Jonesboro of the 1st District, and Steve Womack of Rogers of the 3rd District, all beat back their challengers with 58.5%, 74.8%, and 78.8%, respectively, of the votes counted.
In November, Hill will race another will face Democrat Quintessa Hathaway of Sherwood, who is also looking to make history as the first Black woman to represent Arkansas in the U.S. House. She and Hill will be on the ballot with Libertarian Michael White of Little Rock on Nov. 8.
In the general election about six months away, Crawford will also face another Black candidate as state Democrat Rep. Monte Hodges of Blytheville won the Democratic primary. Roger Daugherty, an independent, will also be on the ballot in November. After beating back challenger Neil Kumar in the GOP primary, Womack also has two challengers in November against the lone Democrat Party candidate, Lauren Mallett-Hays of Farmington, and Libertarian Michael J. Kalagias of Rogers.
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Arkadelphia did not get any challengers in the sprawling 4th District. In the fall, Democrat John White of Stephens and Libertarian Gregory Maxwell of Dover will be on the ballot.
Jefferson County results
Locally, the Secretary of State’s unofficial results from Jefferson County show there will likely be a runoff for Wards 1 and 3 for positions on the Pine Bluff City Council.
In Ward 1, where 100% of the votes were reported and counted, Latisha Brunson had 578 or 47.7% of the votes but was just three points short of the 50% needed to win. Although no other candidate received more than 20% of the 1,211 votes that were cast and counted as of midnight, she will be in a runoff against Danny Walker, who finished second with 241, state election results show.
In Ward 3, the exact number of votes was cast as in Ward 1 with 1,211 ballots on the books. Incumbent City Councilor Ivan Whitfield also had 578 or 47.7% of those votes, the same number as Brunson. Since he did not breach the 50% mark, Whitfield will face challenger Lanette Frazier in a runoff after she received 406 or 33.5% of the vote.
In Pine Bluff’s other city council race, Ward 4 Incumbent Steven Mays easily beat Cassandra Dean with 501 or 67.25% of the 745 ballots cast. The eight-member Pine Bluff City Council is The City of Pine Bluff is divided into four wards with two city councilors serving in the assigned area of the city (See map here).
In the hottest contest for Jefferson County elected officials, Incumbent Tax Collector Tony Washington posted an impressive win in the Democratic primary by getting 73.1% or 4212 of the 5,722 votes cast on Tuesday evening. Jim Lee Fisher Sr. received the remaining 1510 voters, which represents about 26.4% of the total votes cast, state election results show.
In the five contested Justice of the Peace races in Jefferson County, it appears all the primary victors will not have run-off races after winning more than 50% of the vote. They include Alfred Carroll Sr. in District 1; Patricia Royal Johnson in District 4; Margarette Williams in District 6; Roy Agee in District 8; and Edward Spears Sr. in District 13.
In key judicial races, Supreme Court Justice Karen Baker easily held her seat on the state’s highest court by beating back Fort Smith challenger Judge Gunner Delay. Baker won 6,635 votes in Jefferson County; state election results show. Also, Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynne will also remain on the state’s high court after he held off challengers Judge Chris Callahan and DHS attorney David Sterling with 58.8% of the vote in Jefferson County.
In the race for Circuit County Judge for District 11 West, Division 4, Pine Bluff attorney Jackie Harris easily won the race to serve Subdistrict 11.1. That seat is part of the state’s Hunt Decree settlement, a federal court case that led to the establishment of majority-minority “sub-districts” within five judicial circuits in central and eastern Arkansas.