*CORRECTION: Pulaski County voters who are in Precinct 32 will vote at The Connection Church of Sherwood, 14322 Arkansas 107, Jacksonville. A chart of Pulaski County voting locations published with this story misidentified the name of the church.
In Tuesday's primary, Arkansas voters will decide whether Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson survives a challenge from gun-range owner Jan Morgan.
They also will choose from among three candidates for the state Supreme Court post -- including incumbent Courtney Goodson -- and determine whether there is a runoff for the position in November.
In addition, they'll select the Democratic nominee for governor and Republican nominee for secretary of state.
Voters in central Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District will cast ballots among four Democratic candidates seeking to challenge the incumbent, Republican French Hill, in the fall. If no one wins a majority, there is a June 19 runoff for the Democratic nomination.
Arkansans in Northwest Arkansas' 3rd Congressional District will decide whether U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers is their Republican nominee, and those in the 4th Congressional District will determine whether U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs is their GOP nominee.
Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin's office declined to make a statewide projection on how many of the state's 1.7 million registered voters will cast ballots in the primary and nonpartisan general elections, so the projected turnout depends on what part of the state someone lives in.
"Some counties may have heated primary contests that will decide races, and in others the real campaign will be geared toward November," said Martin spokesman Chris Powell.
The turnout in the most recent midterm primary elections was 21 percent in 2014, 29 percent in 2010 and 22 percent in 2006, according to Powell.
"To compare that with presidential years, the primary turnout was ... 38% in 2016, 22% in 2012, and 18% in 2008," he said in a written statement.
Early voting in this year's primaries started May 7 and ends at 5 p.m. Monday.
As of Friday morning, more than 86,000 Arkansans had cast early or absentee votes, Powell said.
That includes 53,947 votes (62.5 percent) in the Republican primary, 30,843 (35.7 percent) votes in the Democratic primary, and 1,543 (1.8 percent) other votes, he said. People can choose to vote only in the nonpartisan judicial election and skip the party primaries.
Craighead County Clerk Kade Holiday said he expects about 20 percent of the county's registered voters to turn out for the primary election, which would be on par with the turnout in the 2014 primary election.
"The big talk and the big buzz up here is the county judge race," he said. "That race has really driven turnout." In that Republican primary, the candidates are Marvin Day and Jeff Presley.
In Benton County, Election Commission Coordinator Kim Dennison said she hopes to have 20 percent voter turnout in the primary election just like in 2014.
"It is really disheartening to see such low turnout so far," she said. "I hope they show up on election day."
In Pulaski County, Election Commission Director Bryan Poe said he expects a turnout of about 20 percent in this year's primary, up from 18.2 percent in the 2014 primary election.
The 2nd Congressional District's Democratic primary is drawing interest in Pulaski County, and "that's probably what is drawing the turnout we have seen so far," he said.
Jay Barth, a professor of politics at Hendrix College in Conway, said he's interested in seeing what percentage of the vote, ranging from 25 percent to 40 percent, Morgan gets in her challenge of Hutchinson in the GOP gubernatorial race.
"How real is the angst in the populist wing of the Republican Party?" he asked.
"It is safe to say it would be the greatest political upset in Arkansas history if she won the primary election," Barth said.
Janine Parry, a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said Morgan is challenging a popular governor in Hutchinson, so the votes in Tuesday's primary will "let us see how much dissatisfaction is out there or whether it is just loud squeaky wheels."
Hutchinson of Rogers is seeking election to his second four-year term as governor. Morgan of Hot Springs is making her first bid for elected office. Hutchinson reported raising nearly $3.9 million and spending $1.56 million so far, while Morgan, who relies on Facebook and other social media to spread her message, has reported raising about $144,000 and spending $116,000.
Asked what percentage of the vote the governor expects to get in the primary election, Hutchinson spokesman Jamie Barker said, "The governor isn't going to speculate on a percentage, but he is optimistic Arkansans will vote to continue the progress we have made over the past three and a half years."
"Based on what I've seen, our base is fired up," Morgan said in a text message when asked what share of the vote she expects to get. "We shall see what happens."
Hutchinson, a self-described conservative, has endorsed two Republican legislative candidates in Tuesday's primary election, said his chief political strategist, Jon Gilmore.
One is Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville, who is seeking to oust Sen. Bryan King of Green Forest. King said he supports Morgan for governor. The other candidate backed by the governor is Rep. James Sturch of Batesville, who is trying to boot out Sen. Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas.
Asked what GOP legislative candidates she is supporting in Tuesday's primary, Morgan said, "I support the most conservative candidates in every race. We all know who they are."
Another notable legislative primary race is Jonesboro Republican Cole Peck's challenge of state Rep. Dan Sullivan of Jonesboro.
In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Teach for America leader Jared Henderson of Little Rock and hair braider Leticia Sanders of Maumelle are vying for the right to take on the GOP nominee and Libertarian candidate Mark West of Batesville in the Nov. 6 general election.
"You hear very little about [the Democratic gubernatorial primary] up here," said Parry, who is in Fayetteville.
Henderson wants to make Arkansas the best state in which to be a teacher within 10 years, while Sanders favors legalization of recreational marijuana.
Henderson "probably protected himself from danger" in Tuesday's primary by recently starting to air television ads touting his candidacy, Barth said.
The three-way race for the state Supreme Court post currently held by Goodson includes Department of Human Services attorney David Sterling and Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Hixson. Goodson has served on the state's high court since 2011 and lost her bid in 2016 to become chief justice -- a different position on the court -- to then-Circuit Judge Dan Kemp of Mountain View.
If none of the three judicial candidates wins a majority of votes in Tuesday's election, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff in the Nov. 6 general election.
Last week, Goodson filed three lawsuits in different jurisdictions in Arkansas' largest media markets against what she says are fictitious claims being aired in ads bought by an out-of-state group. On Friday, judges considering lawsuits in different jurisdictions issued opposite rulings, one blocking the ads and the other permitting them.
The conservative-leaning Judicial Crisis Network of Washington, D.C., sponsored the anti-Goodson ads. The group also has targeted Hixson. Sterling has repeatedly denied any coordination with outside groups running ads against his rivals.
Barth said he "would be shocked" if any of the three candidates wins a majority and avoids a runoff in November. "Now, I'm not sure who is going to be in the runoff," he said.
Parry said she isn't so sure there will be a runoff for the Supreme Court post because it's possible Hixson could win a majority of the votes.
State Land Commissioner John Thurston of East End and state Rep. Trevor Drown of Dover are dueling for the Republican nomination for secretary of state in Tuesday's primary. The winner will take on Democratic candidate Susan Inman of Little Rock and Libertarian candidate Christopher Olson of Viola in November.
State Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock and three other Democratic candidates are duking it out for their party's nomination in Tuesday's primary for the 2nd Congressional District. The three others are teachers Paul Spencer of Scott and Gwen Combs of Little Rock, and administrator Jonathan Dunkley of Little Rock. All three have described themselves as progressives and Tucker as a moderate.
If none of those four candidates wins a majority in the primary, the two top vote-getters advance to the June 19 runoff. The Democratic nominee will take on Hill and Libertarian candidate Joe Swafford in the Nov. 6 general election.
In the 3rd Congressional District, Womack is being challenged by Robb Ryerse in the Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Josh Mahony, Libertarian Michael Kalagias and independent Josh Moody in the fall election.
In the 4th Congressional District, Westerman faces Randy Caldwell in the Republican primary Tuesday. The winner will take on Democrat Hayden Shamel, Libertarian Tom Canada and independents Jack Foster and Lee McQueen in the fall.
How to obtain a sample ballot
SundayMonday on 05/20/2018
Print Headline: Voters to select party nominees at polls Tuesday