Primary date set in House contest

Vote is Feb. 13 on vacant seat

Posted: November 17, 2017 at 1 a.m.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday set Feb. 13 as the date for a special primary election to select nominees to fill the state House seat formerly held by Marshall Republican David Branscum.

Party nominees and other candidates will then face one another in a May 22 special election, the same day as the regular primary election.

If it's required, the special primary runoff for the House District 83 seat will be held March 13, under the Republican governor's proclamation.

House District 83 includes Newton County and parts of Boone, Carroll, Pope and Searcy counties.

Branscum -- a cattle rancher who had served in the House since 2011 -- resigned from his seat, effective Friday, to become the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development director in Arkansas as an appointee of Republican President Donald Trump. Branscum had served as co-chairman of the Legislative Council since 2015. The term for which he was elected in 2016 ends in mid-January 2019.

In July, before the announcement of his appointment, Branscum announced he wasn't seeking re-election.

At that time, Searcy County Justice of the Peace Donald Ragland of Marshall said he plans to run as a Republican for the House District 83 seat. He is a brother of House chief of staff Roy Ragland, who served in the House from 2005-11, also as a Republican from Marshall.

Republicans Glenn Britland of Compton and Timmy Reid of Marshall also have announced their bids for the seat. No Democrats have announced.

According to Hutchinson's proclamation, the period for candidates of political parties to file with the secretary of state's office begins at noon Dec. 6 and ends at noon Dec. 13. The parties are required to issue their certificates for their nominees by noon March 16 and the candidates are required to file certificates of nomination by 5 p.m. March 16.

Independent and write-in candidates must submit their paperwork to the secretary of state by noon Dec. 13.

For the regular 2018 election cycle, the filing period for state and federal offices will be Feb. 22-March 1. The primary will be May 22 and the general election will be Nov. 6.

NW News on 11/17/2017