LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - With a U.S. Senate race that could help determine which party controls that chamber and a race for an open governor’s seat, Arkansas has no shortage of drama in its midterm election.
Republicans view the election as a chance to complete their takeover of the state’s top offices, while Democrats want to keep a foothold in an otherwise GOP-friendly South. Beyond the races at the top of the ballot, the election also features plenty of interesting matchups.
Here are the races to watch in this year’s election:
This is the race that’s dominating the television airwaves in Arkansas, and for good reason. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, and they view Arkansas as crucial to that goal.
The race pits two-term Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor against freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, who represents south Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District. The race is already one of the most heated and expensive in the country, with the candidates and outside groups combining to spend more than $20 million on the race.
Pryor has been touting himself as a moderate Democrat who’s been able to work with both parties, while trying to cast Cotton as someone beholden to outside conservative groups. Cotton has been accusing Pryor of being too closely allied with President Barack Obama and national Democrats.
The open race for Arkansas’ governorship is another nationally watched campaign, with Republicans identifying the post as their top pickup opportunity in the country.
Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson are both ex-congressmen hoping to succeed Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election. The GOP controls both chambers of the Legislature, and Republicans hope to complete a sweep of state offices with a win here.
The two rivals have competing tax cut plans. Ross has proposed gradually reducing individual income taxes by $575 million, but has stopped short of giving a specific timetable. Hutchinson is also proposing to gradually cut the income tax, starting with a $100 million cut for middle class workers in his first year.