Arkansas GOP Worries About Impact of Darr Impeachment

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 7:46 am  

Impeaching Darr would require at least 51 votes in the 100-member House and would automatically suspend him from office. Removing him would require 24 votes in the 35-member Senate after a trial in that chamber.

The House has 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one member of the Green Party. The Senate has 21 Republicans and 13 Democrats, with one vacancy set to be filled next Tuesday.

Lawmakers said an impeachment fight could overshadow the agenda of the legislative session, which some Republicans wanted to focus on a renewed fight over the state's Medicaid expansion under the federal health care overhaul.

They're less certain what impact it could have on the November election, where Republicans hope to build on recent gains in the state. The GOP in 2012 won control of the state Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction and swept Arkansas' four congressional seats.

The first test of the fallout from Darr could come Tuesday, when voters in northeast Arkansas head to the polls in a special election to fill the seat of ex-Sen. Paul Bookout. Bookout, a Democrat, resigned last year after the Ethics Commission fined him for spending thousands from his campaign on clothing, theater equipment and other personal items.

"We'll learn a lot from that process and be able to figure out where we stand from that," said Rep. Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia.

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