Today is a little noticed state House special election in Arkansas in a traditionally blue district based in Crittenden County in the eastern portion of the state, where Arkansas meets borders Mississippi and Tennessee. It is in the suburbs of Memphis, which is why it is a traditionally blue district. The Democrats currently hold a 54-45 majority in the House, making it pretty close in a traditionally blue state.
The vacancy in HD-54 was created when former Rep. Fred Smith (D), a former Harlem Globetrotter, was convicted of theft back in January and subsequently resigned. The candidates in the special election are Democratic nominee Hudson Hallum, who has been plagued with ethics complaints by the Arkansas state GOP, Republican nominee John Geelan, and Independent D’James Rogers. Why does this race matter? This race matters because this seat could go Republican for the first time in a long time, and could help get the Republicans to a majority in the state House next year, since President Obama, in a state where he is unpopular and voted against him in 2008, is on the top of the ticket.
There are a few reasons why this seat may go Republican: the Democratic nominee (Hallum) has been plagued with ethics complaints and voter fraud complaints, the Independent (Rogers) is African-American, and a former Democrat, and will probably siphon many African-American and Democratic votes from Hallum, Smith’s resignation will probably give many voters away to another candidate, and the fact that this election will have low turnout, and Republicans will probably come out to vote could help Geelan (R) win.
John Geelan (R) is a video-game store owner from West Memphis, and believes with all of these factors, he can win the special election and represent HD-54. The fact that Hallum, the Democratic nominee, received a $52,000 loan that he didn’t report in his financial disclosures/campaign comtributions report last month. This “scandal” could get even more voters to sway Republican. This district contains the city of West Memphis, and a Republican win would be major for the state GOp. This could help the GOP get a majority in the state House next year with momentum like this if they win this special election.
Here are some election statistics from within Crittenden County in the 2010 elections: (FYI-G=Green Party/W-I=Write-Ins)
Governor: Mike Beebe (D) 70.2%/Jim Keet (R) 27.0%/Jim Lendall (G) 1.4%/W-I 1.5%
Lieutenant Governor: Shane Broadway (D) 61.1%/Mark Darr (R) 38.9%
Attorney General: Dustin McDaniel (D) 78.5%/Rebekah Kennedy (G) 21.0%/W-I 0.5%
Secretary of State: Pat O’Brien (D) 61.2%/Mark Martin (R) 38.8%
State Treasurer: Martha Shoffner (D) 75.1%/Bobby Tullis (G) 25.9%
State Auditor: Charlie Daniels (D) 79.3%/Mary Hughes-Willis (G) 20.7%
Commissioner of State Lands: LJ Bryant (D) 58.3%/John Thurston (R) 41.7%
State Representative-District 54: Fred Smith (D) 80.7%/W-I 19.3%
State Representative-District 53: Keith Ingram (D) 63.0%/Roger Sumpter (Ind) 37.0%
U.S. Senate: Blanche Lincoln (D) 53.9%/John Boozman (R) 41.8%/Trevor Drown (Ind) 2.4%/John Gray (G) 1.7%/W-I 0.2%
U.S. House-District 01: Chad Causey (D) 58.6%/Rick Crawford (R) 39.0%/Ken Adler (G) 2.3%/W-I 0.1%