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Rep. James Sturch to challenge for Senate seat currently held by Sen. Linda Collins-Smith

Talk Business and Politics

An intramural battle among Republicans for a coveted state senate seat has sparked in northern Arkansas. State Rep. James Sturch, R-Batesville, will muster a primary challenge to incumbent State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, for the District 19 seat.

Sturch, a Southside native and certified social studies teacher, began his career in public service 15 years ago when he worked on former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s re-election campaign.

“I still believe public service is noble work. I want to continue serving North Central Arkansas by being a strong advocate for job creation, growing our economy and producing more opportunities for the people back home,” Sturch said. “It is important we have a senator who is willing to work with the governor, other legislators, and our communities to get things done for our region. My record shows I am able to do that while always putting my district above political pressure.”

Collins-Smith hasn’t announced if she will seek re-election. She told Talk Business & Politics her focus has been on the recent flood damage in Pocahontas and the surrounding communities.

“My priority is working with Gov. Hutchinson, our congressional delegation, local elected officials and relief agencies in order to help farmers, business owners, and residents recover from these devastating floods,” she said. “I think political discussions can wait until a more appropriate time.”

Sturch said he voted for the largest income tax reduction in Arkansas history and he supported reforms to the state’s Medicaid program that was expanded under Obamacare. These reforms created a work requirement for participants and helped improve Medicaid for the individuals who most need it, he said.

Sturch said he opposed attempts from powerful lobbying groups that would have transferred local public-school tax dollars to private schools and legislation that took local control away from county and municipal governments.

He first sought political office in 2014 when he successfully ran for a state house seat, garnering about 62% of votes cast. The incumbent representative was re-elected in 2016.

Sturch is a graduate of Southside High School and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he earned degrees in political science and secondary education. Sturch has completed his master’s degree in public administration. He serves on the Education and State Agencies committees.

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George Jared is a reporter for Talk Business & Politics, covering issues related to Northeast Arkansas and the Delta. Jared is also a writer and a former reporter for the Jonesboro Sun.