Arkansas Senators Elect Michael Lamoureux As Leader

LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Senate on Thursday elected Republican Sen. Michael Lamoureux as its next president after the GOP won control of the chamber for the first time since Reconstruction.

Lamoureux's election to the leadership role came with no opposition on a voice vote. Lamoureux will replace Senate President Paul Bookout, D-Jonesboro.

The Senate had previously elected Democratic Sen. Larry Teague as its next president late last year, but opened up nominations Thursday following Tuesday's election results. Lamoureux was the only candidate running.

Republicans will hold 21 of the Senate's 35 seats.

Senators also plan to make committee assignments and draw for seniority. They also will draw to decide which members serve two-year terms and which will serve four-year terms after redistricting.

In a move likely intended to show the Senate's willingness to work in a bipartisan fashion, Lamoureux was nominated by Democratic Sen. David Wyatt of Batesville. Wyatt won re-election Tuesday in a heated race.

Lamoureux noted the challenges the Senate faces next year, including a shortfall in the state's Medicaid program.

"We're prepared to work together to solve these problems," he told the Senate.

Meanwhile, Republicans hold a 50-48-1 edge in the House with one race still pending in Benton County. In a separate House race in east Arkansas, Democrat L.J. Bryant is seeking a recount after he lost by a few dozen votes to Republican John Hutchison.

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