* IT WAS INDEED TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE: Early returns showed moderate (in the Republican context) candidates leading several hotly contested state Senate primaries in Northwest Arkansas, though it had become apparent before I quit that Bart Hester, the former Razorback/Koch Bros. property was going to defeat Tim Summers in Bentonville. The Americans for Prosperity/Crossland Construction/Teresa Oelke Tea Party express train of fellow travelers had reason to crow when all was done — they could claim a big part of victories by Sen. Fireball Holland in Van Buren, Rep. Bryan King of Green Forest and Rep. Jon Woods of Springdale. Holland and Woods face good and interesting Democratic opponents in Republicanland — Rep. Tracy Pennartz in Holland's case and Diana Gonzales Worthen in Woods' case. It will be a test of the possibility of appealing to moderation, though Northwest Arkansas Republicans are exulting in the dominance of their extreme rightwing point of view in that part of the state. Jon Woods was quoted: "I think the conservatives are tired of the moderates in our party." There you have the future of the Republican Party. In the long haul, I still believe that this self-selection of an extreme rightward orthodoxy is bad for the party nationally, if not in places like Benton County and similar. But in the short run, middle-of-the-roaders (and common sense) are about to get pulverized. No creed but greed is the order of the day. Women's rights and tolerance of sexual minorities? Fugheddaboudit. Democrats demonstrated no such liberal tilt in their contested races last night, far from it, in fact. The only true liberal who won was Joyce Elliott, an incumbent with that advantage, who beat a guy who carried Obamacare and who is no conservative, though he was burdened with backing from wealthy corporate patrons in a poor black district. There was a class split there, maybe, though not an ideological one.
* RACE: When it was all over and the heavily white precincts came in, Rep. Keith Ingram took 55 percent of the vote to defeat Sen. Jack Crumbly in his newly drawn Senate district. Crumbly sued because the district wasn't sufficiently black enough to ensure his election. Apparently not, particularly when black voters don't turn out.
* RUNOFFS: In the 1st District Democratic congressional primary, Scott Ellington had 49 percent of the vote to Clark Hall's 39, several hundred votes shy of an outright victory. Ellington, by name recognition as a multi-county prosecutor from the district's biggest city, would appear the favorite to edge over in the runoff, but a very light turnout could produce strange results. The 12 percent that went to Gary Latanich seems unlikely to go to Clark Hall. Latanich had attacked Hall harshly in the early going. Ellington could present a strong challenge to incumbent Republican Rep. Rick Crawford. Hall, too, for that matter.
In the 4th District Democratic congressional primary, Sen. Gene Jeffress and his non-campaign led 40-36 over Q. Byrum Hurst, the Hot Springs lawyer. Who can say where crank D.C. Morrison's 25 percent will go? Maybe not vote at all. Hurst, tax problems and all, would be the strongest candidate against Republican winner Tom Cotton of Washington, D.C. (a temporary Dardanellle resident), in the fall.
* BRAGGING RIGHTS: The anti-tax corporate fat cats at Club for Growth are exultant at the victory of Tom Cotton in the 4th District Republican congressional primary. Their $300,000 accounted for almost a third of Cotton's money — along with bags full of other eastern loot — and beat a Mike Huckabee-backed candidate, Beth Anne Rankin. Huckabee and CFG don't get along, a point in the Huckster's favor.
* THE PRESIDENT: The Democrat-Gazette's promotion of a nut candidate in the Democratic primary for president continued this morning as the paper led with the vote for loser John Wolfe. President Obama, who hit not a lick in Arkansas while Wolfe robo-called and campaigned with endless free media from newspaper and TV, got 58 percent of the vote. That is typically viewed as a landslide, but Republicans and the DOG are endeavoring to portray it as a sign of Obama weakness. Uh, yes, the swarthy Muslim Kenyan isn't much liked in Dixie. If he gets 38 percent in the fall in Arkansas, it will be a good night.
Here's the virtually complete statewide returns. The secretary of state's vaunted vote reporting effort, which cost $500,000, is lacking lots of counties, as expected.
Here's the summary of the Pulaski County vote. Obama got more votes than all Republican candidates combined. Runoffs include LR School Board member Charles Armstrong versus Tommy Branch for House district 30 and Patti James v. John Hout for a juvenile judgeship, but that non-partisan runoff won't occur until November. The links to County Election Commission precinct results are currently not functioning.