Arkansas Politics Blog

The Arkansas House of Representatives chamber.
arkansashouse.org

Democrats in Arkansas don’t hold any congressional seats or control any branch of government but there are some spots on the map, at the state legislative level, where the party hopes to make advances.

An open seat for the state House, HD38, a district that narrowly turned Republican in 2014 is giving Democrats hope to make up for a lot of ground lost since the state’s GOP shift.

But first, Democrats have to settle who their nominee will be for the district containing parts of North Little Rock and Sherwood.

Arkansas Senate Chamber in the state Capitol building.
arkansas.gov

The presidential primary is eating up the attention of most voters but beneath the national whirlwind is a split dividing Arkansas Republicans in races for the state legislature. The margins in the state senate are so slim that a change in just of one of the chamber’s three contested races could punch a hole in Governor Asa Hutchinson’s budget.

“In all candor, the number one objective for the senate is to stop the Obamacare Medicaid expansion,” said Copeland.

Asa Hutchinson
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Fresh off a campaign stop in Little Rock, Marco Rubio has secured the support of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. The Republican governor made his endorsement on Monday with little fanfare following Rubio’s 2,000 strong rally on Sunday evening.

Former GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
NPR

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio is campaigning in Little Rock Sunday, one day after his second place finish in South Carolina's primary. Pundits predict Bush's exit from the race, following a 4th place showing, could help establishment-friendly Rubio or John Kasich. But it likely won't alter the Arkansas political dynamic heading into the March 1 primary.

U.S. Senator John Boozman in the Republican Party of Arkansas headquarters.
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The Republican presidential field may not like President Obama’s announcement  he will travel to Cuba next month but U.S. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas welcomes the step. The Republican told KUAR he supports the president’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.

“I’m very supportive of him going," said Boozman. "We haven’t gotten any place doing what we’ve done. I’m very much in favor of making it such that we have a relationship with Cuba, trading with Cuba. When you trade you’re not only trading goods and services but you’re trading ideas and values."

There was an exchange between Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and John Kasich at the South Carolina debate last weekend about Medicaid expansion that illustrates what Governor Asa Hutchinson was talking about in his press conference yesterday.

Hutchinson said continuing some form of coverage for 250,000 low-income people (the Affordable Care Act enabled funds for this new population) does not mean that Arkansas Republicans at the state level want the ACA to be the federal healthcare law. He still, as he has always said, opposes it.

March Rubio supporters
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio’s campaign on Tuesday announced the support of 28 Arkansas legislators including several in leadership positions. Some had previously pledged support with about a dozen newly declared backers. State Senate President Jonathan Dismang was among those at the state Capitol offering his endorsement for the first time. Dismang said the U.S. Senator from Florida is a unifying force.

“I think the party is divided,” said Dismang. “It’s important that we have someone that the majority of folks can get around. I think Rubio’s that guy.”

Asa Hutchinson healthcare
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Governor Asa Hutchinson is defending Republican legislators backing his Medicaid expansion plan as early voting begins for Arkansas’s March 1 primary. 

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.
NPR

A few more Arkansas endorsements are on deck for Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio. A press release from the campaign said an event at the Capitol on Tuesday will "announce a growing list of support from Arkansas lawmakers."

Support from some of the state's most prominent elected officials has yet to be secured after former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee dropped out of the race following a 9th place Iowa finish. 

U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) in February.
C-SPAN

In a rare bi-partisan moment the U.S. Senate - or all but one member - was prepared to take a step on Thursday to change part of the nation's juvenile justice system. President Obama's State of the Union address in January harped on criminal justice as an area where common ground might be found.

The congressional news site Roll Call has an account of U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas ruffling the feathers of Democrats and Republicans alike.

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