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story.lead_photo.caption Bruce Westerman

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack easily defeated his Republican primary opponent Tuesday.

Womack of Rogers was leading the Rev. Robb Ryerse of Springdale, with 489 of 551 precincts reporting in the 3rd District GOP race.

U.S. House

Dist. 2

Democratic Primary

• Gwen Combs: 7,567 (20 percent)

• Jonathan Dunkley: 3,362 (9 percent)

• Paul Spencer: 4,712 (13 percent)

• Clarke Tucker: 22,045 (58 percent)

Dist. 3

Republican Primary

• Robb Ryerse: 8,484 (16 percent)

• Steve Womack: 44,136 (84 percent)

Dist. 4

Republican Primary

• Randy Caldwell: 7,826 (20 percent)

• Bruce Westerman: 32,299 (80 percent)

For latest results, go to These were results at press time.

In the Republican primary for the 4th District, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs led the Rev. Randy Caldwell of Hot Springs Village with 652 of 920 precincts reporting.

State Rep. Clarke Tucker won the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District, avoiding a runoff in the crowded race.

3rd District

With Congress in session, Womack cast his ballot ahead of time and monitored the returns from Washington.

Womack, who is serving his fourth term, learned he had won shortly after polls closed.

Thanks to the Internet, he was able to listen to the election returns as they were broadcast live on his father's radio station.

"I don't have the words to explain just how grateful I am for the opportunity to move ahead to the November election. I took nothing for granted," he said.

"Clearly our message of limited government, more freedom, lower taxes, fewer regulations and free market principles is in keeping with the Republican platform and it's a great feeling to see the kind of returns that we're watching tonight," he added.

Voters chose between candidates with vastly different visions for the Republican party and the nation.

Womack, 61, is the former mayor of Rogers and serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University, he is a former Rogers City Council member, radio station manager and financial consultant.

He also served for more than three decades in the Army National Guard, retiring with the rank of colonel.

Ryerse, 43, was backed by Brand New Congress, an organization founded by supporters of former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

A graduate of Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pa., Ryerse supported raising the federal minimum wage, eliminating tax loopholes for large corporations, expanding Medicaid and promoting renewable energy. He said he enjoyed challenging "a political establishment that doesn't serve the people very well."

Ryerse, the pastor of Fayetteville's Vintage Fellowship, said he is glad that he ran.

"The thing I've enjoyed most is meeting people all over Arkansas who are creative and engaged in making the country and the world a better place. They've really been an inspiration to me," he added.

4th District

Westerman was standing with constituents on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, preparing to lead a night tour at 7:30 p.m. when the polls closed.

By 7:35 p.m., at least one outlet in the state had declared Westerman the winner, but the congressmen said he wanted to see more numbers before making a statement.

One hour later, Westerman expressed satisfaction with the results.

"I'm just very thankful for the voters for putting their trust in me with their votes and for recognizing the hard work I've been doing up here on their behalf," Westerman said in an interview. "I think the conservative values that I stand for are represented well and I look forward to taking that message into the general election."

Westerman will face Democratic candidate Hayden Catherine Shamel of Hot Springs and Libertarian Tom Canada of Scranton in the Nov. 6 general election.

It was their first primary challenge for Womack and Westerman since taking office.

Westerman, a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, fought off a challenge from Caldwell, a Pentecostal evangelist who said God had told him to run for Congress.

After residing in League City, Texas, for 15 years, Caldwell announced in February returned to his native state to seek elected office.

Both men stressed their support for President Donald Trump.

Westerman, 50, who has a master's degree in forestry from Yale University, serves on the House Agriculture Committee and is the sponsor of the Resilient Federal Forests Act, which would make it harder for environmentalists to derail federal forest management plans and easier to increase funding for firefighters when costs soar beyond projections.

His opponent, who frequently refers to himself as "Dr. Caldwell," declined to disclose his educational background.

Westerman, an engineer and forester, is a former Arkansas House of Representatives majority leader who previously served on the Fountain Lake School Board.

Caldwell, 54, who described himself as "a preacher, not a politician," did not list any political experience.

The Caldwell campaign didn't respond to phone calls and emails Tuesday seeking comment.

2nd District

State Rep. Clarke Tucker won the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District, avoiding a runoff in the crowded race.

Tucker had a commanding lead over Gwen Combs, Paul Spencer and Jonathan Dunkley with 371 of 509 precincts reporting.

He will face two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. French Hill in November's general election. The Little Rock Republican has represented the district since 2015, and it's been held by the GOP since 2011.

National Democratic Party officials, however, have identified the central Arkansas district as one that voters could flip later this year.

The district is made up of Pulaski, Conway, Van Buren, White Perry, Faulkner and Saline counties.

In addition to Hill, Libertarian Joe Swafford of Maumelle is running for the office. U.S. representatives serve two-year terms, receiving an annual salary of $174,000.

Steve Womack
Clarke Tucker

NW News on 05/23/2018

Print Headline: Womack, Westerman easily win GOP primaries

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