The private option and the Republican primaries | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The private option and the Republican primaries

Posted By on Tue, May 20, 2014 at 10:35 PM

Max's talking head is on Fox and he may have more when he returns. In the mean time, thought we'd check in on the primaries in which the private option played a heavy role. 

Three lawmakers who voted for the private option in 2014 battled in primaries for state Senate seats: incumbent Sen. Bruce Holland, incumbent Sen. Bruce Sample, and Rep. John Burris, vying for an open seat.

* Burris and challenger Scott Flippo are heading to a runoff (a third candidate, Mountain Home mayor David Osmon, supports the private option). With 99 percent of precincts reporting: Burris 43 percent, Flippo 42, Osmon 16. 

* Holland goes down. Rep. Terry Rice is up 57-43 in his challenge to Holland, with 89 percent of precincts reporting. 

* Sample wins 55-45 over challenger Jerry Neal.

In the House, incumbent Rep. Sue Scott is facing a primary challenge in her bid for re-election.

*Scott survives. She's up 55-45 and AP has declared her the victor. 

Two lawmakers running for statewide office – Rep. Duncan Baird running for treasurer and Rep. Andrea Lea running for auditor – have also faced heavy attacks in their primaries for their support of the private option.

*Lea won easily (up 68-32 with 77 percent reporting). 

*Dennis Milligan defeated Baird. He's up 54-46 with 97 percent of precincts reporting.

Finally, two lawmakers in legislative re-election bids who flip-flopped – voting for the private option in 2013 but then turning around and voting against it in 2014 – have nevertheless been attacked for their original support: Sen. Missy Irvin and Rep. John Hutchison.

*Irvin won easily (64-36 with 96 percent reporting). 

*Hutchinson goes down. AP has called it for challenger Dwight Tosh, up 60-40 with 96 percent of precincts reporting. 

That's 3 wins and 2 losses for the lawmakers who voted for the private option in 2014, with the Burris-Flippo race heading to a runoff. The flip-floppers who voted for the private option in 2013 but voted against it this year? One won, one lost. Interpret all that however you'd like. 

However folks read the post-election narrative, the road to re-authorization just got significantly steeper because the margins are so tight to get the needed 75-percent supermajority. The private option passed the senate last year with no votes to spare — with Rice beating Holland, supporters would appear to be one vote short. Coming up with that vote sounds very difficult, but not necessarily impossible. But two votes? That might take something close to a political miracle. The Burris-Flippo runoff looms large, and could determine the future of the private option (maybe worth noting again that the third candidate in their race, who got 16 percent of the vote, supports the private option). 

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