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House election in Little Rock finishes in runoff

Springer, Davis seek Walker seat by John Moritz | January 15, 2020 at 6:50 a.m.
Ryan Davis and Joy Springer are shown in these photos from the Arkansas secretary of state's office.

Voters in Little Rock on Tuesday sent two Democrats into a runoff primary election to help decide the successor to the late state Rep. John Walker, whose House District 34 seat was vacated when he died last fall.

Joy Springer led Tuesday's returns with more than 40% of the 694 votes cast. Ryan Davis was in second place with around 34% of the vote.

Following the top two finishers were Lee Miller and H. "Otis" Tyler.

With 11 of 11 precincts reporting, the complete, unofficial results were:

Springer 295

Davis 236

Miller 109

Tyler 51

Because none of the four candidates earned more than half of the votes cast, the Democratic nominee will be decided in a runoff election Feb. 11.

After that, a general election will be held alongside the statewide partisan primary and nonpartisan judicial general election on March 3. Independent candidate Roderick Talley will compete in that round of voting, which will decide who finishes out Walker's term, which ends next January.

Walker was one of Arkansas' foremost civil-rights leaders. He represented black families throughout three decades of the Pulaski County school desegregation lawsuit. He began serving in the Legislature in 2011.

Springer, a longtime office manager at Walker's law firm, cast herself as Walker's heir apparent and raised the most money during the campaign. According to her final pre-election report, she had raised $13,140 from supporters in addition to getting a $4,500 loan.

Springer said late Tuesday that she was encouraged by the results, though she lamented the low turnout. She criticized Gov. Asa Hutchinson's decision to call a special election to fill the seat close to a regularly scheduled election.

"People know who I am and what I stand for," Springer said. "Hopefully we'll have more people coming out to vote [in February]."

Davis, close behind in fundraising with $11,387, had earned support from several noted figures in local politics, such as Rock the Culture podcast host Antwan Phillips. Davis could not be reached for comment after the final votes were counted about 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Of the other candidates in the race, Lee reported raising $1,350 on top of an $8,500 personal loan to his campaign at the end of November, but he did not file a final pre-election report. Tyler reported raising $825 on top of $12,500 in personal loans to his campaign.

Each of the four Democratic candidates from Tuesday's special primary will compete again in less than two months, meeting in the March 3 primary to pick a nominee for the Nov. 3 general election. Talley has filed to run as an independent in that election, as well.

No Republicans filed to run in either the special election to fill the remainder of the current term or for the two-year term starting in January. House District 34 has voted reliably Democratic in recent elections.

Talley garnered attention as an advocate for a police overhaul last year, and finished fourth in the special Democratic primary for a neighboring House district last year. He faces several criminal charges, including accusations of forgery, escape and felony assault on a law enforcement officer.

Metro on 01/15/2020

Print Headline: House election in Little Rock finishes in runoff


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