Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson won his Republican Party primary with room to spare Tuesday, beating challenger Jan Morgan by a margin of more than two-to-one.
Likewise, roughly 200,000 Arkansans chose a GOP ballot — almost twice the number who voted in the Democratic primary.
Hutchinson didn’t extend any appreciation to his opponent in his election night speech or so much as mention her by name. And for her part, Morgan said afterward she would maintain her campaign promise and not endorse her party's nominee in the general election.
This primary, the governor said, was more than just a difference of opinion.
“This race has also been about the soul of the Republican party.”
And the voters, he said, chose hope and optimism for the future.
“Well, this election was very consistent with what happened four years ago. You had a very vocal minority that created a lot of ruckus …. We see a very similar pattern tonight. And so, we just got to be steady and focusing on the big issues of our party of what we’ve accomplished, and that hope and optimism that is so much a part of Reagan’s legacy, we want to restore that Reagan legacy ... and I think that’s what the voters said.”
Hutchinson won Morgan’s home county, Garland County, by a two-to-one margin, though she appears to have won a few counties, mostly along the southwestern corner of the state.
“Am I said, am I crying?” she asked her supporters. “No. We put up a good fight, all right? Let’s celebrate with a victory that we can claim. And that is, that we got to the people. We woke up the people. We didn’t wake up enough of them, but hey, we’ve got an alarm clock that we’re gonna get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Hutchinson will face Democratic nominee Jared Henderson, the former Teach for America director in the state, who won his primary by a similar margin but with far fewer total votes than Hutchinson and Morgan generated in their primary.
“It looks like about 65 percent of the primary voters voted in the Republican primary. So that’s a huge advantage as you go into the fall. And that’s — we’re the majority party so most of the interest is going to be on the Republican side as it was in this election.”
For her part Morgan said she will not run as an independent.
This story is produced by Arkansas Public Media. What's that? APM is a nonprofit journalism project for all of Arkansas and a collaboration among public media in the state. We're funded in part through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with the support of partner stations KUAR, KUAF, KASU and KTXK. And, we hope, from you! You can learn more and support Arkansas Public Media's reporting at arkansaspublicmedia.org. Arkansas Public Media is Natural State news with context.