Few voters decide runoff off elections

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Leslie Rutledge, a Batesville native, Little Rock Attorney and former aide to Governor Mike Huckabee, won a run-off election for the Republican nomination for the office of Attorney General on Tuesday, June 10. While Rutledge won the May primary, she failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote, giving second place finisher, Little Rock Attorney David Sterling, another chance at overtaking her.

In the runoff, only 139 ballots were cast in Fulton County. That was less than two percent of eligible voters, those who voted Republican or a non-partisan ballot in the primary. Sterling won in Fulton County, 110 votes to Rutledge's 27 votes.

In Izard County, 223 votes were cast, three percent of eligible voters. Rutledge took Izard County, 119 votes to Sterling's 98 votes.

According to Fulton County Clerk Vickie Bishop, Arkansas state government was responsible for funding the runoff election, which required all polling places to be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., even though few voters were expected.

Rutledge will face Democrat Nate Steel, a state representative, and Libertarian candidate Aaron Cash in the November election.

In Baxter County, voters had two races to decide. Besides the Republican race for Attorney General, there was a runoff for the Republican nomination for the District 17 Senate Seat. Senator Johnny Key of Mountain Home, who was an influencial legislative leader, did not seek re-election, because he had applied for a job with the University of Arkansas. Rep. John Burris of Harrison and Mountain Home businessman Scott Flippo had a "do over," because neither got more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary.

Flippo defeated Burris by 201 votes to win the nomination, and the seat since no Democrat filed for the office. The race was closely watched statewide because Rep. Burris was one of the authors of the so-called Private Option, a plan which narrowly passed the legislature, to expand health insurance for the poor. Instead of increasing the number of people in Arkansas eligible for Medicaid, as requested by the federal government, an agreement was reached to provide federal funds to allow low income residents to buy private health insurance. Many Republican legislators remain determined to repeal the Private Option. Flippo had criticized Burris' role in developing the plan, and pledged to work to repeal it, if he was elected.

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