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Arkansas experienced another red wave election Tuesday, with Republicans winning all four of the state's congressional races.

Two years after failing to field candidates in the 1st, 3rd and 4th districts, Democrats competed for every seat. But in each contest, well-funded incumbents defeated their challengers.

In the 3rd District, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers won a fifth term, besting Democrat Josh Mahony of Fayetteville and Libertarian Michael Kalagias of Rogers.

With 470 out of 500 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:

Womack 146,953

Mahony 74,056

Kalagias 5,823

In the 1st District, voters favored U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro for a fifth term over Democrat Chintan Desai of Helena-West Helena and Libertarian Elvis Presley of Star City.

With 695 out of 771 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:

Crawford 131,438

Desai 55,050

Presley 4,314

In the 4th District, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs beat Democrat Hayden Shamel of Hot Springs and Libertarian Tom Canada of Scranton in his quest for a third term on Capitol Hill.

With 869 out of 946 precincts reporting, unofficial returns were:

Westerman 130,260

Shamel 61,578

Canada 3,739

The closest race was in central Arkansas' 2nd District. Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill, 61, a former Little Rock banker, won against Democratic state Rep. Clarke Tucker and Libertarian Joe Swafford.

Of the state's four districts, none have been more reliably Republican than the 3rd District, which includes Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas' major cities.

Democrats last won there in 1964.

Womack, 61, is chairman of the House Budget Committee and a former Rogers mayor. Before entering politics, he served as station manager at his father's radio station, KURM in Rogers, and as executive officer of the University of Arkansas' Army ROTC program. He also served in the Arkansas Army National Guard, retiring after three decades with the rank of colonel.

In his four previous races, Womack had never received less than 72 percent of the vote in a general election.

Tuesday's vote was "more than I could've hoped for," Womack said.

"People are doing better, the economy's doing well, there's plenty of jobs, people are keeping more of their money, we've gotten after regulations, we've strengthened national security [and] we've got a couple of guys on the Supreme Court that put the Constitution in real good hands," he added.

[2018 ELECTION: Full Democrat-Gazette coverage of Arkansas races]

Womack said he is committed to the people of Northwest Arkansas.

"I work my district pretty hard. I have a constituent service program that is second to none. I show up for work and I represent my district with the honor and integrity that they deserve," he added.

Womack's colleagues in the state congressional delegation also had good showings.

In the 1st District, which encompasses northeastern Arkansas and a string of counties along the Mississippi River, Crawford dominated once again.

The former saddle bronc rider, rodeo announcer and agriculture news broadcaster is the first and only Republican since the 1870s to carry what was once the state's most reliably Democratic seat.

A member of the House Agriculture Committee, Crawford, 52, represents the top rice-growing district in the nation.

He was challenged by Desai, the son of immigrants and a former Teach for America corps member.

On Tuesday, Crawford portrayed the results as a strong vote of confidence.

"It's a big honor to be re-elected and it's a validation that we're doing some things right and serving our constituents and that's what we're supposed to do," he said.

In the 4th District, Westerman, an engineer and the only member of Congress with a graduate degree in forestry, appeared to be on the way to another term.

The former Fountain Lake School Board president and state House majority leader represents all of southwestern Arkansas, plus Pine Bluff and a slice of Northwest Arkansas.

Westerman, 50, said he's thankful to the people who worked so hard on his behalf. "There's no way you can win one of these races on your own," he added.

Voters re-elected him "because of the work we've done and the positions we've taken and the trust we've built," he added.

Metro on 11/07/2018

Print Headline: 4 retain edge to represent state in D.C.

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