Only one contested U.S. House primary in Arkansas in 2024

Welcome to the Thursday, February 29, Brew. 

We hope all our readers have an unbe-leap-able day today!

By: Briana Ryan

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. For the fifth time in a decade, all of Arkansas’ U.S. House incumbents are running for re-election
  2. State lawmakers pursue opposing RCV strategies
  3. Learn about the 2024 California ballot propositions in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

For the fifth time in a decade, all of Arkansas’ U.S. House incumbents are running for re-election

Five states are holding primaries for congressional and state offices on March 5: Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, California, and North Carolina. Yesterday, we looked at upcoming elections in Alabama. Today, we will look at another southern state: Arkansas. Arkansas will hold primaries for congressional, judicial, and state legislative elections on March 5.

U.S. House

  • Nine candidates are running for Arkansas’ four U.S. House districts, including four Democrats and five Republicans. That’s an average of 2.25 candidates per district, fewer than the three candidates per district in 2022 but more than the 1.75 candidates in 2020. In 2018, 3.25 candidates ran per district, the most this decade. Republicans hold all four seats in the U.S. House from Arkansas.
  • The nine candidates running this year are also the fewest total number to run since 2020, when seven candidates ran. There were 12 candidates in 2022.
  • Incumbents filed to run in every district. The last time an incumbent didn’t run for re-election in Arkansas was 2014, when two incumbents didn’t run. This means there have been no open seats in Arkansas for a decade.
  • The Republican primary in the 3rd Congressional District is this year’s only contested primary. Three primaries — all Republican — were contested in 2022, tying 2018 for the most this decade. No primaries were contested in 2020.

Ballotpedia is covering the Republican primary in the 3rd District as a battleground primary:

  • Arkansas’ 3rd Congressional District (Republican primary): Two candidates are running, incumbent Steve Womack and Arkansas state Senator Clint Penzo. As of Feb. 27, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball all rated the general election Solid/Safe Republican

State legislature

All 100 seats in the state House and 18 out of 35 seats in the state Senate are up for election this year. Arkansas has had a Republican trifecta since the party won control of the governorship in 2014. Republicans currently have an 82-18 majority in the House and a 29-6 majority in the Senate. Arkansas legislators are limited to 12 consecutive years in office with the opportunity to return after a four-year break.

  • A total of 203 major party candidates are running — 86 Democrats and 117 Republicans.
  • Thirteen of the seats up for election are open. This guarantees that newcomers will make up at least 11% of the Legislature next year.
  • Twenty-four state legislative primaries are contested this year — 10 Democratic and 14 Republican. That’s a 61% decrease from 2022.
  • Heading into the March 5 primary, 10 incumbents — four Democrats and six Republicans — face primary challenges, representing 10% of all incumbents running for re-election.


Arkansas voters will also decide primaries for state treasurer. Both Democratic and Republican primaries are uncontested. Current Treasurer Larry Walther, whom Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders appointed after Mark Lowery died in 2023, did not seek re-election.

Statewide courts

Arkansas voters will also decide primaries for two seats on the Arkansas Supreme Court and two seats on the Arkansas Appellate Court. Four of the six candidates vying for the two seats on the Arkansas Supreme Court are already sitting justices on the court. Those four candidates are running for seats different from their own and, if elected, would need to resign from their current seats. This shift would create vacancies that the state’s governor would fill.

Other races

Ballotpedia is also covering elections for local offices across the state on March 5, including general elections for four seats on the Little Rock Board of Directors and two seats on the Little Rock School District board.

Keep reading 

State lawmakers pursue opposing RCV strategies

Each month, Ballotpedia releases a State of Election Administration Legislation Report, looking at election-related legislative activity from all active state legislatures. One area in February’s report we are paying close attention to is legislation on ranked-choice voting (RCV).

There are more than 100 ranked-choice voting (RCV) bills currently active in state legislatures. Nearly a third of them seek to ban or repeal RCV’s use.

Democratic lawmakers have been more active, introducing 57.3% of RCV bills, while 53.4% of all RCV legislation has been introduced in states with Democratic trifectas. 

Legislators introduced 73 of the 103 currently active bills, while the remainder carried over from last year’s legislative sessions. 

Differing approaches

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have generally pursued opposing strategies on RCV. More than 90% of Republican-sponsored bills (27) ban or repeal the use of RCV. Just one bill prohibiting RCV has any Democratic sponsorship, Ohio’s bipartisan-sponsored SB137

Democrats are seeking to expand the use of RCV largely without Republican support. Of the 62 bills that would allow or implement RCV for new elections, only seven have any Republican sponsorship: Republican-sponsored A3080 in New Jersey and S6235 in New York, as well as bipartisan legislation in Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. Democratic legislators introduced 52 of the remaining bills expanding RCV’s use. Three bills did not have partisan sponsorship.

Efforts to ban RCV continue 

Legislators in 16 states have introduced bills that would ban ranked-choice voting, including two that have passed one chamber of a legislature. Georgia’s SB355 passed the Georgia Senate 31-19 on Jan. 26, while Utah’s HB290 passed the Utah House of Representatives 43-26 on Feb. 22. 

Ranked-choice voting is not currently in use in Georgia, except for military and overseas voters participating in certain elections. SB355 makes exceptions for these voters. In Utah, 23 localities use RCV as part of the Municipal Alternate Voting Methods Pilot Project, which legislators approved in 2018. 

Since 2021, five states with Republican trifectas have banned or prohibited ranked-choice voting, including three states in 2023.

Lawmakers in Alaska introduced AB4 to repeal their state’s use of RCV and an open, top-four primary system that voters approved through Alaska Ballot Measure 2 in 2020. Legislators voted the bill out of committee with a favorable recommendation on Jan. 18.

Bills allowing or requiring RCV outnumber bans, but rate of passage stays even

Bills introduced in 21 states this year would implement or expand RCV. Legislation to expand RCV’s use outnumber prohibitions more than 2-to-1. Despite the greater number of introduced bills, lawmakers are advancing RCV bans at a higher rate (6.7% have passed one chamber) than new adoptions (4.8%). 

In Virginia, SB270 and SB428 passed the Virginia State Senate on Feb. 12 by a vote of 21-19. The first would allow presidential primaries to use RCV, while the second would permit the use of RCV for any local or constitutional office.

In Vermont, S32, originally introduced in 2023, would adopt RCV for presidential primaries. It passed the Vermont Senate 23-7 in March of that year. The bill remains active in the Vermont House of Representatives. 

Presidential primaries 

In addition to the bills in Vermont and Virginia, legislation in eight other states would adopt RCV for presidential primaries: Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Our comprehensive Election Administration Legislation Tracker is the basis for the data and analysis in this report. This user-friendly database covers thousands of election-related bills in state legislatures and organizes them by topic with neutral, expert analysis from Ballotpedia’s election administration researchers.

Keep reading

Learn about the 2024 California ballot propositions in the latest episode of On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

On the Ballot, Ballotpedia’s weekly podcast is taking a deep dive into the 2024 California ballot measures. This two-part special takes a look at California’s parcel taxes and the 11 statewide measures that have qualified for the ballot in the Golden State.

In our first installment, released yesterday, Ballotpedia’s Ballot Measures Managing Editor Ryan Byrne talked to our host, Victoria Rose, about California’s use of parcel taxes as voters in 15 counties get to weigh in on whether to impose these taxes on March 5. You can learn more about parcel taxes here.

Today, Ryan and Victoria are back for part two of the special, where they will take a broader look at the 11 statewide measures that have qualified for the California ballot this year. One of these measures, Proposition 1, will be on the March 5 ballot. Proposition 1 is a pair of bills that would make changes to the state’s Mental Health Services Act. To read more about the 2024 California ballot propositions, click here.

Campaigns supporting and opposing California ballot measures in 2022 raised a total of $724,847,874.79. Since 1999, Propositions 26 and 27 — a combined initiated constitutional amendment and state statute — hold the record for fundraising with $463,378,417.

And remember, new episodes of On the Ballot drop every Thursday afternoon. If you’re reading this on the morning of Feb. 29, there’s still time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your preferred podcast app and catch part two of the California Ballot Measures Special!

Listen here