***Updated*** In the local Primary election storyline, at least two new faces will emerge in county government in 2019, while another county incumbent faces a runoff, and three incumbents did survive Tuesday challengers to serve another term.
***Updated*** In the Hempstead Primary election storyline, at least two new faces will emerge in county government in 2019, while another county incumbent faces a runoff, and three incumbents did survive Tuesday challengers to serve another term.
In unofficial results from Tuesday night, the major local races saw Jerry Crane emerge in the GOP primary for Hempstead County Judge ousting incumbent Haskell Morse and a second challenger Greg Jackson. Crane finished with 1,261 while Morse had 645 and Jackson come in with 292.
Tuesday’s results now set up November's General Election where Crane will face Democrat Allen Flowers, who did not have a primary challenger, in a contest to determine the next Hempstead County Judge for the next four years, starting in January 2019.
Crane, who served as Hempstead County Sheriff for 18 years, retired to form a church in Perrytown and do ministry. He also served in law enforcement in the region for 28 years, having worked for the Hope Police Dept. and the Highway Patrol division.
Flowers is a retired Veteran with 24 years service in both the Navy and Army, where he served stateside as well as seeing combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a statement after Tuesday’s results revealed that Crane would be his opponent, Flowers said, “We are pleased that voters did vote for changes. We are confident that our campaign will be able to ride that wave of change to a victory in November.”
Crane said Tuesday that “Flowers was not a candidate to be taken lightly.”
Flowers as the Democrat will have his work cut out for him based on turnouts on Tuesday. Of 10,576 registered voters in Hempstead County, 2,208 identified as Republicans voted, while only 622 Democrats cast a ballot.
The other incumbent toppled Tuesday was longtime District 6 Justice of the Peace Lynn Montgomery, after 55 years of service, was unable to withstand the challenge of Troy Lerew, Sr. By a razor thin 10-vote margin, Lerew emerged 143 to 133 for Montgomery, and with no Democrat in the race, Lerew is set to succeed Montgomery in January 2019.
District 7 Justice of the Peace Mikki Curtis, who was recently appointed as an interim dean at UA-Hope, will face a runoff against challenger Steve Atchley. In Arkansas, the primary runoff election date is listed as June 19, 2018, and early voting for the runoff is set for June 12.
Incumbent County Clerk Karen Smith said the runoff’s early voting will happen at the Hempstead County Courthouse inside her office, while the June 19 vote will happen at the Fair Park Coliseum in Hope and Shover Springs, where District 7 overlaps.
In a three-way race that also included newcomer Jim Burke, Atchley lead the race with 138 votes, followed by Curtis with 100 votes and Burke with 82. Although Atchley led in the final count, he was unable to secure the needed 50-percent plus one margin to win, so he and Curtis will meet in a runoff.
Atchley's percentage of the vote came in at 43.1 percent, while Curtis had 31.2 percent and Burke had 25.6 percent.
Incumbent County Clerk Karen Smith did win in a hard fought rematch with her 2016 opponent Eva Morehead. This time, Smith won in the primary after Morehead filed as a GOP candidate; Smith's margin of victory was 1,188 to 977 for Morehead. Under the new extended state term limits for elected county officials, Smith will not face the voters again for four years.
“I appreciate everyone who has supported me over the last two years and supported me this time; It was another tight race, hard-fought race, and I am pleased to serve the citizens of Hempstead County another four years,” Smith said afterwards.
Also surviving Tuesday was the incumbent Prosecuting Attorney Christi McQueen, who faced a stronger than expected challenge from Angilynn Taylor. In Hempstead County, McQueen got 1,856 votes to Taylor's 951; combined with Nevada County, McQueen got 2,778 votes to Taylor's 1,432. Between Hempstead and Nevada counties, 4,210 voters cast ballots in their race.
In a three-way race in Hope School Board's Zone 6, incumbent Kathryn Dickinson, who was appointed to finish out the term of her late husband, Denny, won reelection to the seat in her own right Tuesday defeating Ira D. Love and Nicholas Ward by a large margin. Dickinson came in with 222 votes with Love at 133 and Ward with 20.
In other results of interest, within Hempstead County, incumbent Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson received 1,365 votes over GOP challenger Jan Morgan with 807. Statewide, Hutchinson defeated Morgan, 137,894 to 61,286.
Hutchinson will now move on to November's General Election to face Democrat Jared K. Henderson. Henderson emerged in the Democratic Primary over Leticia Sanders 64,469 to 37,028. In Hempstead County, however, Sanders got a higher vote total with 330 votes to Henderson's 222.
For US Congress District 4, incumbent Bruce Westerman received a whopping 77-percent of the vote in Hempstead County against GOP challenger Randy Caldwell by a count of 1,605 to 479.
Westerman will now move on to November's General Election to face Democrat Hayden Shamel. Westerman defeated Caldwell districtwide by a count of 39,407 to 9,960 to advance.