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Arkansas PoliticsElectionsRead

The Primary Election and the Arkansas Senate

Here are some take-aways from the Republican primary and runoff elections for state Senate.


Eight current members of the Arkansas House of Representatives sought the Republican nomination for state Senate seats. These Representatives have a legislative record which means you can examine their voting record and see whether they voted with or against the Republican platform and conservative principles.

Conduit for Commerce issues a scorecard after each regular legislative session. As a group the Representatives who had a strong conservative legislative record did better than those with a weak record. While there are additional factors in each race, especially where one candidate has no record, a good voting record helped.

Four of the five Representatives with strong conservative records won their Senate races.

  • John Payton defeated incumbent Senator James Sturch in a runoff in Senate District 22. While Payton had a strong record, Sturch had a weak record. Payton does not have an opponent in the general election.
  • Clint Penzo won the nomination for Senate District 31. He will face a Democrat in the general election.
  • Josh Bryant won the nomination for Senate District 32. He does not have an opponent in the general election.
  • Jim Dotson won the nomination for Senate District 34. He will face a Libertarian in the general election.
  • Gayla H. McKenzie lost her bid for the nomination for Senate District 35.

Two of the three Republican state Representatives having weak voting records lost their race for a Senate nomination.

  • Justin Boyd won the nomination for Senate District 27. He will face a Democrat in the general election.
  • Spencer Hawks lost to incumbent Senator Mark Johnson in Senate District 17.
  • Keith Slape failed to make the runoff for Senate District 28.


Some Republican Senators did not have a challenger in the primary and some won their primary, but four incumbent Republican Senators lost their bids for renomination.

Of those who lost, two had weak voting records.

  • Senator James Sturch lost in a runoff to Rep. John Payton in Senate District 22.
  • Senator Bill Sample lost the nomination for Senate District 6.

The other two incumbent Senators who lost both had relatively strong voting records but one of the two was running against a former Senator who also had a strong record.

  • Senator Charles Beckham lost in his bid for nomination for Senate District 3.
  • Senator Bob Ballinger lost his bid for nomination for Senate District 28. This race was unique because both Ballinger and the winner, former Senator Bryan King, had relatively conservative records. Bryan King will face a Democrat in the general election.


The left got involved in Republican primaries. Campaign donations were made by left leaning contributors plus Democrats were encouraged to cross over and vote in the Republican primary to help elect weaker Republicans. Left leaning donors had some victories in the Republican primary. But, when the left wing organization Arkansas Common Ground came out in the open and endorsed three Senate candidates in advertisements all three lost. The following candidates were endorsed in the Common Ground advertisements.

  • Jim Tull lost to Rep. Josh Bryant in Senate District 32
  • Mayor Peter Christie lost to Rep. Jim Dodson in Senate District 34
  • Andrew Thompson lost to Rep. Clint Penzo in Senate District 31


All candidates in the Republican primary ran on being conservative, even those who had considerable support from left leaning donors. We hope all Republican nominees will live up to the claim of being conservative and will live up to the name Republican by living up to the party platform.

The primary is over and it is time to defeat Democrat challengers because we know where they stand.


Three things are certain. First, lobbyists for WOKE corporations will be working to become the friends of all winners. Second, Republican Senators will be urged to compromise Republican/conservative principles in the name of being “pragmatic,” (which is the codeword for going along with big government and WOKE policies). Third, for the most part conservative legislation will be opposed by WOKE corporations, groups dependent on big government spending, and some bureaucrats.

As you can see your job as a voter is not over with the November election. Your Senator needs to know you will hold them accountable for their promises as Republicans.


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