by Max Brantley
Trends have been established.
* 1st DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY: Scott Elllington will defeat Clark Hall and Gary Latanich, likely without a runoff, though he's at 51 percent. It's not a shocker. He has high recognition as a prosecuting in Jonesboro, the region's largest city, with multi-county jurisdiction. Hall is a state representative from a small farming community and his money edge wasn't large enough to buy a ton of media in the sprawling district.
* 4th DISTRICT DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY: Sen. Gene Jeffress, who had virtually no campaign at all, has a 42-lead over Byrum Hurst of Hot Springs, who had some effective TV advertising. But, for now, it's short of a majority over Hurst and D.C. Morrison.
* 4th DISTRICT REPUBLICAN PRIMARY: Heavily financed Tom Cotton, the D.C. insider who came home to win a taxpayer ride back to Washington, has a comfortable 54-41 lead with about half the vote in. Variations are possible in the huge district, but given his large margin in the Garland County population system, his nomination seems likely.
* ARKANSAS SUPREME COURT: Crusty old Jo Hart, who was able to run with judge before her name while Court of Appeals colleague Ray Abramson, serving by appointment, was not, holds a commanding lead, 64-36. Hart clobbered Abramson by a similar amount in Pulaski, a very bad sign for his candidacy, given his establishment support (not to mention his vital Arkansas Times editorial endorsement.) My candidate will loss, but I guess I take the satisfaction of knowing that he also was supported by the most aggressive Tea Party Republican figures in Arkansas, for reasons I never could dope out.
* PULASKI RACES: Early voting is not always determinative, but it's very important, particularly in fairly homogenous districts. So I take it as a good sign that Sen. Joyce Elliott led Rep. Fred Allen in the Senate race in early voting 59-41 percent. And my former Times colleague, Warwick Sabin, holds a 2-1 edge over Mark Robertson in the House race to succeed term-limited Kathy Webb. In a Republican primary for state Senate, with the winner to face Democrat Johnny Hoyt, Rep. David Sanders holds a 54-46 lead over Rep. Ed Garner in Pulaski voting, but the district stretches into other counties.
Other local races, judging by the early voting (and you can check Pulaski votes here):
* Looks like a runoff, led by Patti James, in the three-way circuit judge race, with John Hout in the November showdown. Tjuana Byrd is trailing.
* Little Rock School Board member Charles Armstrong (zones just redrawn to suit him), is leading a House race, but currently not with enough votes to avoid a runoff with Tommy Branch.
* Out in Jacksonville, long-time district court judge Robert Batton is trailing challenger Mark Nash.
Finally, in the category of Too Good to be True:
In the early voting, Tea Party candidates are losing Republican Senate primaries, but the night is far from over. Finally, really, are there candidates too extreme even for Republicans?
I speak of Rep. Tim Summers' lead over Bart Hester in a Benton County Senate race; Bill Pritchard's lead over Jon Woods in a Senate race around Springdale, and Rick Green's wide margin over Fireball Holland in Crawford County. Nothing the Koch brothers can do for the candidates of Teresa Oelke, Crossland Construction and Americans for Prosperity now but bite their nails and hope for a turn-around. Oh, and I forgot Rep. Bryan King of Green Forest trailing Bill Coleman in another Republican Senate primary.
UPDATE: Siigh. At least one of those Senate races turned south. With 93 percent of the votes in, Hester holds a 250-vote lead over Summers, so the Oelke/Koch/Crossland junta, which poured tens of thousands in direct and indirect money into the race, may end up owning this Senate seat after all. A powerful win for wing nuttery against a well-liked candidate with friends at Walmart and a district drawn by Gov. Beebe to help Summers.
Racial Politics: Rep. Keith Ingram, who is white, is trailing Sen. Jack Crumbly for Crumbly's new Senate district, which he's challenged as racially discriminatory because the black majority wasn't big enough to ensure his win. If Crumbly wins, does he drop his lawsuit?
Secretary of state's website with all state races here.
PULASKI COUNTY UPDATE: The usual snafu. Their website hasn't been updated since the early vote. But a backdoor channel showed that all precincts have been counted. Some highlights:
* PRESIDENT: Romney had 72 percent of the Pulaski vote, Obama 86 percent. Obama has more than 19,000 votes and Romney about 9,000. See why this county could elect a Democratic congressman? So far, Democrat voting is more than Republican statewide, but narrowly. Obama led the crank candidate by 16,000 votes.
* LEGISLATURE: David Sanders led Ed Garner in that Republican Senate primary in Pulaski, but his lead is a bit wider counting some outlying counties. Joyce Elliott took a huge 62-37 win over Fred Allen in the Senate race. Black voters don't take their lead from the DOG, apparently. Warwick Sabin defeated Mark Robertson 64-36 in the Hillcrest House race.
* JUDICIAL RACES: Jo Hart is giving Raymond Abramson a 7,000-vote whomping for Supreme Court in Pulaski County. That juvenile judgeship will go to a November runoff, looks like, between Patti James (42 percent) and John Hout (35 percent). Jacksonville Judge Bob Batton is FIVE votes ahead in a race to hold his bench against Marshall Nash.