by Max Brantley
Comment here on tonight's results.
NATIONAL: Minutes after the polls closed, Kentucky was called for Clinton as expected. She won by 35 percentage points, almost 250,000 votes. Oregon won't arrive until 10 p.m., but the campaigns have seen the exit polling and it sounds to me like the expected wide Obama victory. 10 PM UPDATE: Oregon called for Obama the minute the polls closed.
ARKANSAS: Benton County will provide the most excitement tonight in terms of bareknuckle contests, but there will be a lot of votes cast in judicial races in Pulaski County.
7:58 PM Some Pulaski votes tallied, probably the early voting. Key points: Joyce Elliott leading Sen. Irma Hunter Brown, Rita Gruber well ahead of Judge Wendell Griffen and, in a disheartening shocker if it stands, Mark Leverett near 50 percent in the race for Little Rock district environmental court. Courtney Henry has a big lead over a Hutchinson clan candidate in early voting for that Court of Appeals race in NW Ark. And Vicky Boozman is trailing former Democrat Tim Summers in a Benton County race for state representative.
Otherwise, the usual lack of results in Pulaski.
9:16 PM I notice Sen. Shawn Womack is just ahead of strong challenger in his race for a judgeship and his likely runof opponent, Gail Campbell, is a respected lawyer who might retire this injudicious fellow to private life.
9:28 PM PULASKI UPDATE: Lots of precincs to come, but Joyce Elliott maintains her lead over Sen. Irma Hunter Brown. This is a mixed district. Unless I miss my guess, if Elliott wins, she will owe it to a stout margin in the Hillcrest area neighborhoods. John Edwards is leading Jeff Dailey in that Heights House race. Rita Gruber is clobbering Judge Griffen 60-40.
There are going to be some runoff races for judgeships in November. At this moment, looks like Cathi Compton and Melinda Gilbert, in order, in the race for circuit court; Hugh Finkelstein (leading currently) and Alice Lightle in the district court criminal division; Mark Leverett (his leading percentage has dropped substantially from early voting) with either Slocum Pickell or Gary Sullivan for the environmental court.
10 PM UPDATE No surprises, really. I regret the defeat of the better candidate, the experienced Judge Wendell Griffen, but there's no denying he planted the seeds for his defeat by his robust use of the First Amendment.
Courtney Henry beat Ron Williams for the NWA Court of Appeals seat handily. She'll even carry Benton County, it appears.
In the Little Rock district court runoff for environmental judge, there's much to examine in Mark Leverett's record before the runoff, a record that escaped attention from the daily newspaper in the primary. Maybe some more light will be shed in the days ahead. Hugh Finkelstein, who didn't campaign the last two weeks because of the death of his wife, nonetheless seems headed to the runoff for criminal court with Alice Lightle in a strong showing under the circumstances.
Joyce Elliott's victory in the Senate race would truly be a blast of fresh air in the Senate and peel off a vote counted on by the Brotherhood, always a good outcome.
There are several candidates I'd have liked to seen beaten tonight, but didn't expect it to happen, so ....
ODDS AND ENDS: Former state Rep. Larry Teague of Nashville has won an open Senate seat there. ... Ann Clemmer won the Republican primary for the House seat in the Bryant area and will face Democrat Scott Smith. ... Too soon to call Sen. Jim Luker's re-election contest with Rep. Denny Sumpter. ... Darrin Williams and John Edwards seem likely winners for Democratic House nominations in Little Rock. ... Davy Carter looks to be the winner over Randy Minton in a hot Republican House primary in Lonoke County. ... Race in Fort Smith House primaries were closer at the outset than they should have been, with nuts contending in both a Republican and Democratic primary. But, in the end Democratic Rep. Tracy Pennartz coasted and Stephanie Malone won the GOP nomination to another Fort Smith House seat narrowly over the guy who favored demanding IDs from anybody who looked Hispanic. ... Sad news. With two precincts out, Vickie Critcher has a 150-vote lead, probably unclosable, over James McLean in a race for a House seat from Batesville. The Brotherhood gives way to the Sisterhood if she wins. Will she hire her husband, the Senate pro tem, for House staff? (A reader says, however, that McLean has taken the lead. We'll see) McLean carried those last two precincts big and won. This is GOOD news. ... Too early to call the hot GOP House primaries in Benton County.