Dr. Jay Barth, emeritus professor of politics at Hendrix College, said the key question in the primary was whether Boozman would be able to get more than 50% of the vote and avoid a runoff. With 90% of precincts reporting, Boozman led with 58% of the vote, followed by Bequette with 21% and Morgan with 19%.
Boozman, a former optometrist, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. Boozman had the endorsements of former President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and former White House Press Secretary and 2022 Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R). Boozman highlighted Trump’s endorsement and focused on his legislative record, saying, “[President Trump and I] rebuilt our military, stood up for our veterans, helped our farmers through challenging and unprecedented times, confirmed three conservative Justices to the Supreme Court and completely reshaped the judiciary.”
Bequette, a U.S. Army veteran and a former football player from Little Rock, cited immigration and law enforcement as top issues. Bequette described himself as a political outsider and highlighted his military service and time as a player for the Arkansas Razorbacks and the New England Patriots. Bequette said, “I’m no squish career politician. I’m a former all-SEC Razorback and an army veteran who left the NFL and volunteered for the 101st Airborne in Iraq.” Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R) and Burgess Owens (R) endorsed Bequette.
Morgan worked as a journalist and owned a firearms training facility in Hot Springs. Morgan focused on immigration and election administration and said she supported term limits. Morgan described herself as a conservative fighter, saying, “America needs aggressive fighters in D.C. who will get in the ring and boldly take on our enemies rather than stand on the sidelines.” Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn endorsed Morgan.
Bequette and Morgan called Boozman a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and criticized him for not challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. Bequette also criticized Boozman for not committing to a debate. Boozman’s campaign responded by highlighting Trump’s endorsement and Boozman’s record. In one of Boozman’s campaign ads, the narrator said, “[Boozman] is a workhorse, not a show pony.” It continued, “Others have words; Boozman does the work.”
At the time of the primary, groups not directly affiliated with any of the candidates had spent $5 million in the race, the second-largest amount of satellite spending for a U.S. Senate primary where a GOP incumbent was running for re-election in 2022, according to data from Open Secrets. The Arkansas Patriots Fund spent $1.5 million in support of Bequette, the most of any group. The group received a $1 million donation from businessman Richard Uihlein last year, according to data from the FEC. Several different groups spent a combined total of $2.1 million in support of Boozman.
At the time of the primary, three independent election forecasters considered the general election as Solid Republican.