Arkansas has the most contested state legislative primaries since at least 2014

From 2014 to 2020, the number of state legislative primaries in Arkansas with more than one candidate ranged from 21 to 27. This year, the number of contested primaries rose to 62. This represents 28% of the possible state legislative primaries this year.

The number of contested Republican primaries more than tripled from 2020, increasing from 16 to 52. The number of contested Democratic primaries doubled compared to 2020, from five to 10. These numbers represent the most contested primaries for each party since at least 2014.

Of those candidates involved in contested primaries, 29 are incumbents, representing 28% of incumbents seeking re-election, the largest such percentage since at least 2014. As a result of redistricting, two incumbents—Reps. Mark McElroy (R) and David Tollett (R)—were drawn into the same district, setting up the legislature’s only incumbent versus incumbent primary.

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Arkansas this year was March 1. Candidates filed to run for all of the state’s 100 House and 35 Senate districts.

Thirty-two of those districts were left open, meaning no incumbents filed to run, the most since at least 2014. That represents about 24% of districts holding elections this year, all of which are guaranteed to be won by newcomers.

Overall, 263 major party candidates filed to run this year: 74 Democrats and 189 Republicans. That’s 1.9 candidates per district, an increase from the 1.6 candidates per district in 2020 and 1.7 in 2018.

Arkansas has been a Republican trifecta since 2014 when Asa Hutchinson (R) won the governorship. Republicans currently hold a 27-7-1 majority in the Senate and a 78-22 majority in the House.

Arkansas’ state legislative primaries are scheduled for May 24, making them the 11th in the nation.

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About the author

Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.