Ed.’s Note: Updated at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday with most counties reporting — U.S. Congress District 1 (29 of 30 Counties Reporting) Gary Latanich 11.72% 6,648 / Clark M. Hall 38.78% 21,988 / Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington 49.50% 28,070. U.S. Congress District 4 - Democrats (32 of 33 Counties Reporting) Q. Byrum Hurst 35.59% 19,318 /DC Morrison 21.31% 11,570 / Senator Gene Jeffress 43.10% 23,394. U.S. Congress District 4 - Republicans (32 of 33 Counties Reporting) Tom Cotton 57.38% 20,475 / John Cowart 5.42% 1,934 / Beth Anne Rankin 37.20% 13,275.
LITTLE ROCK — Republican newcomer Tom Cotton tried to avoid a runoff for the GOP nomination in Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District in Tuesday’s primaries while veteran state Sen. Gene Jeffress led a three-way race for the Democratic nomination.
In the 1st District, Prosecutor Scott Ellington held a lead over state Sen. Clark Hall for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Rick Crawford in November.
In Arkansas’ only statewide race except for president, state Court of Appeals Judge Josephine Linker Hart appeared headed to victory over appellate colleague Raymond Abramson for a seat on the state Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, unknown Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe made a strong showing against President Obama in the state’s Democratic presidential primary.
In partial, unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office, Cotton held a 58 percent to 38 percent lead over Beth Anne Rankin for the GOP 4th District nomination, with John Cowart a distant third with 4 percent.
A runoff appeared likely in the 4th District Democratic primary, with Jeffress garnering 42.5 percent, lawyer Q. Bynum Hurst of Hot Springs with slightly over 36 percent and D.C. Morrison of Little Rock with just over 21 percent. The top two vote-getters will face off in a June 12 runoff.
Hurst, 63, is a Hot Springs lawyer. Jeffress, 63, a retired teacher from Louann, is in his 10th year in the state Senate after serving four years in the state House.
In eastern Arkansas, Ellington led with just under 50 percent of the vote, with Hall at 39 percent and economist Gary Latanich with just under 12 percent.
Ellington, 48, of Jonesboro, is in his second year as prosecuting attorney for Arkansas’ 2nd Judicial District. He is best known for brokering a plea deal with the men known as the West Memphis Three after they spent 18 years in prison for the 1993 deaths of three West Memphis second-graders.
Hall, 64, of Marvell, is in his third two-year term in the state House and is prevented by term limits from seeking a fourth. The farmer and former Marvell mayor was at the forefront of the congressional redistricting process in the Legislature last year, authoring both a rejected map that would have added Fayetteville to the 4th District known as the Fayetteville finger and the map the Legislature ultimately approved, which keeps Fayetteville in the 3rd District.
Latanich, 64, has not previously held any public office but served on former Gov. Bill Clinton’s Economic Advisory Board as an economic forecaster.
The winner will challenge Crawford, 46, of Jonesboro, in November. Political observers say Crawford, the first Republican to represent eastern Arkansas in Congress since Reconstruction, may be the state’s most vulnerable congressional incumbent as he fights to retain a district that has been redrawn to include three Delta counties in Southeast Arkansas that traditionally favor Democrats.
In the Supreme Court race, Hart, who has served 13 years on the appeal court, held a 66 percent to 34 percent lead over Abramson, who was appointed to the bench in 2010.