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Collins-Smith loses State Senate seat; Rep. Sullivan survives primary challenge

Arkansas State Capitol
Arkansas State Capitol

One of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s most vocal critics within his own party lost her primary battle Tuesday night. State Sen. Linda Collins-Smith, R-Pocahontas, was defeated by State Rep. James Sturch, R-Batesville, in the State Senate District 19 race. With 100% of the vote in according to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office, Sturch tallied 52.9% (5,299) of votes cast while Collins-Smith garnered 47.1% (4,726).

Results are unofficial.

If they stand, Sturch will face Democrat Susi Epperson, also from Batesville in the November general election. Repeated attempts by Talk Business & Politics to contact Sturch were unsuccessful. Collins-Smith sent Talk Business & Politics a message that she couldn’t immediately talk in the aftermath of the election, but would try to at a later date.

Collins-Smith had opposed several of Hutchinson’s initiatives including Arkansas Works, the state Medicaid expansion program, and criticized his position on conceal-carry gun provisions.

In another hotly contested Republican primary, incumbent Dan Sullivan defeated challenger Dr. Cole Peck. Sullivan tallied 53% (1,432) of votes cast, while Peck was able to muster 46.7% (1,259). Sullivan told Talk Business & Politics it was a hard fought race, and he’s glad he won his third term.

“I feel really good … I appreciate all those people who held up my signs … it’s an honor,” he said.

Peck, running in his first political race, said he enjoyed the experience and may seek office in the future. He noted that he won a large swath of votes in Jonesboro, while Sullivan did well with voters in the more rural eastern part of the district.

“We tried our best … It’s a little bit early, but I might consider another run,” he said.

Sullivan said his only regret on the campaign trail was that he and Peck didn’t spend enough time discussing issues with voters. When he returns to the legislature, a host of issues will have to be addressed, he said.

Tort reform, healthcare, tele medicine, teacher pay and insurance, the independence of the Arkansas Plant Board are among his top priorities, he said. Ethics has been a problem in the governmental body, and it will have to be addressed too, he added.

Senate District 24 incumbent Keith Ingram defeated opponent Turrell Mayor Dorothy Cooper in one of the few Democratic primaries of the night. Ingram tallied 3,821 votes cast (76%) as compared to the 1,217 (24%) Cooper received. Ingram, seeking his third term was grateful voters returned him to the State Senate.

“It feels great. Everyone worked really hard,” he said.

“Dark money” from out of state sources, and education will be among Ingram’s priorities during the next legislative session, he said.

Talk Business and Politics is a content partner of KASU.  Their show airs on KASU 91.9 FM on Mondays and Fridays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:51 am.  It also airs during NPR’s All Things Considered on Wednesdays at 5:20 pm.  You can follow more of their coverage on their website TalkBusiness.net where you can also catch the latest Northeast Arkansas news.

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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.