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Turning on turnout?

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Candidates will not be able to file for offices until Mar. 21, but already there are campaigns underway that indicate crowded Democratic primary battles for most statewide open-seat constitutional offices.

Mike Hathorn, Jay Martin, Drew Pritt and Tim Wooldridge are running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor; Robert Herzfeld, Dustin McDaniel and Paul Suskie are competing to represent their party in the attorney general’s race; Mac Campbell, Don House and Martha Shoffner have announced for state treasurer.

With so many Democrats hustling for votes and urging their supporters to the polls, the turnout will likely be higher than normal and may have consequences for the governor’s race.

Will Mike Beebe benefit because of his longstanding relationships among the Democratic Party faithful? Or will Bill Halter get a boost from marginalized and disenfranchised Democrats who don’t consistently vote but show up at polling places in May?

Another perennial question is Arkansas is the issue of crossover voting, because party registration is not required. However, Republicans are expected to stay out of the Democratic contests thanks to a hotly contested primary of their own featuring Chuck Banks, Jim Holt and Doug Matayo for lieutenant governor.

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