Little Rock House race cost more than $500,000, including more last-minute Michael Morton money | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Little Rock House race cost more than $500,000, including more last-minute Michael Morton money

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 7:05 AM

click to enlarge STACY HURST: Money edge, including heavy nursing home contributions, didn't bring her victory in House race. But she gets state job as consolation prize.
  • STACY HURST: Money edge, including heavy nursing home contributions, didn't bring her victory in House race. But she gets state job as consolation prize.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Claudia Lauer noted today that Democratic candidates outspent Republican candidates in six of the seven races for statewide office (all but treasurer) and still lost them all.

Here's at least one contest that ran contrary to that trend and is noteworthy for its sheer size.

Democrat Clarke Tucker defeated Republican Stacy Hurst in the race for House District 35 in Little Rock, though Hurst enjoyed a huge money edge — raising $318,135 to Tucker's  $228,099. She reported spending about $318,000 and he reported expenditures of about $214,000.

The total spending in that race of more than $532,000 eclipsed the amounts spent in the races for state treasurer (about $324,000), auditor (about $175,000), land commissioner (about $140,000) and secretary of state (about $200,000).

Hurst's final report included an 11th-hour infusion of $8,000 from Fort Smith nursing home owner Michael Morton, whose extensive political giving continued despite his well-publicized connection to a scandal with campaign bundler Gilbert Baker, who'd surfaced early in the Hurst campaign, and $1,000 from Koch Industries. I'd reported earlier on $10,000 in Morton contributions to Hurst; contributions from the dubious PACs he financed (Hurst returned that money after the scandal broke) and money from Baker assistant Linda Flanagin, also a key player in the continuing investigation of the convergence of Baker, Morton and campaign cash for then-Judge Mike Maggio. Maggio delivered a judicial decision worth $4 million to Morton about the time Morton's PAC cash rolled in with earmarks for the Maggio campaign. A lawsuit pends over that as well as a continuing federal investigation.

Hurst, who sent almost $8,300 in campaign surplus to the Arkansas Republican Party, came out ahead for losing. Asa Hutchinson, the incoming governor, is making her director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, a job that pays almost $110,000 a year.

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