Arkansas GOP Aims for Statehouse, Congressional Sweep

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 8:53 am  

Republicans have not had a majority at the state Legislature since 1874, a run of 138 years, and Arkansas is the only former Confederate state where Democrats control the Legislature and the governor's office.

The GOP also hoped to win the state's only Democrat-held congressional seat in south Arkansas. U.S. Rep. Mike Ross' decision to not seek re-election has opened up a race between Republican Tom Cotton, an Army veteran and management consultant, and Democrat Gene Jeffress, a state senator.

The election pits Democrat Scott Ellington, a local prosecutor, against Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford in the bid for the 1st Congressional District in east Arkansas. Ellington helped negotiate the deal last year that freed three men who were convicted as teenagers in the 1993 murders of three Cub Scouts in West Memphis. Crawford, who was elected in 2010 partly on a pledge to oppose any tax increases, proposed hiking taxes on millionaires earlier this year in exchange for a balanced budget amendment.

In central Arkansas, Democrat Herb Rule challenged Republican Rep. Tim Griffin in the 2nd Congressional District. Republican Rep. Steve Womack did not face any major party opposition since his Democratic challenger withdrew his candidacy over questions about his military record.

Voters will also have a say on three ballot measures, including a proposal to allow patients with certain conditions to buy medical marijuana. If approved, it would make Arkansas the first southern state to legalize medical marijuana.

Steve Chamness, 36, of Cabot, said Tuesday he couldn't back legalizing pot even a little bit.

"As a police officer, I can't see that going very well," he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast or distributed.) 



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