- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Latest on Arkansas’ general election results (all times local):

5 p.m.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he won’t consider serving in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, despite speculation the Republican governor could be tapped as attorney general.

When asked Wednesday whether he’d consider joining Trump’s cabinet, Hutchinson quickly responded no. Then he quipped, “how’s that for clarity?”

Hutchinson is a former congressman who served as the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and later as undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security under former President George W. Bush. He was first elected governor in 2014 and hasn’t said whether he’ll seek re-election in 2018, though he’s widely expected to run.

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3:30 p.m.

A Democratic state representative in Arkansas says he’s considering switching to the Republican Party after the GOP expanded its majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Rep. Jeff Wardlaw of Hermitage said Wednesday he was close to making a decision on whether to switch parties. Wardlaw, who has served in the state House since 2011, said he planned to issue a statement on Thursday about his decision.

Wardlaw declined to say why he was considering such a move, which comes a day after Republicans expanded their majorities in the House and Senate. The GOP locked up control of the Arkansas Senate before the election and will hold at least 26 of the chamber’s 35 seats in January. In the Arkansas House, Republicans will hold 73 seats and Democrats will have 27.

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1:45 p.m.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he’s asking lawmakers to approve spending $3 million from Arkansas’ rainy day fund for startup costs related to a voter-approved amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

The Republican governor told reporters the money will be needed for the Health Department and the Department of Finance and Administration to put employees and resources in place to prepare for regulating the medical marijuana program. Arkansas voters on Tuesday made the state the first in the Bible Belt to approve medical marijuana.

Hutchinson also said he’ll meet with House and Senate leaders to discuss their appointments to the five-member commission that will license dispensaries for selling the drug.

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1:15 p.m.

Election results show that the vote to legalize medical marijuana in Arkansas won by about 6 percentage points, though Tuesday’s numbers must still be certified.

Geographically, the support was spread throughout the state, though most of Arkansas’ larger population areas supported legalization. Some areas that are traditionally conservative - such as Sebastian and Benton counties in northwest Arkansas - voted in favor of legalization.

The strongest support came in Poinsett County, where 62 percent of voters favored legalization. The measure was also approved by nearly 60 percent of voters in Pulaski and Washington counties, and by about 56 percent of voters in Jefferson, Johnson, Phillips, Chicot and Mississippi counties.

Opposition was strongest in Arkansas’ more rural counties, including Cleveland, Howard, Sevier and Dallas counties.

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12:20 p.m.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he thinks the American people spoke “clearly and loudly” for change by electing Republican Donald Trump as the nation’s 45th president.

The Republican governor told reporters he thinks Trump’s victory signaled that voters want the type of change they saw after Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, and said the president-elect faces high expectations to address the country’s problems and bring people together. He said he wants Trump to work to unify the country and reflect Reagan’s optimism.

He said he believed Trump’s coattails probably helped Arkansas Republicans as they expanded their majorities in the state House and Senate.

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Noon

Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he thinks Arkansas’ passage of medical marijuana reflects a “contrariness to the status quo,” and has directed state agencies to start working on rules on making the drug available to patients.

Hutchinson told reporters Wednesday it’s too early to say what limits he’d like the Legislature to consider to the medical marijuana program when they convene for next year’s session. The Republican governor said he wants to make sure the program has the proper oversight, is fair and has public input.

Hutchinson, a former head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, was an outspoken opponent of the ballot measure. He said the biggest unknown is how President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will react to the states have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use.

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11:40 a.m.

Complete but unofficial election results show that Republican Donald Trump won all but eight Arkansas counties in Tuesday’s election.

With all precincts reporting, Trump captured 60 percent of the vote in Arkansas and Democrat Hillary Clinton won just under 34 percent.

Clinton won Pulaski County, which is Arkansas’ most populous, and seven counties in the Mississippi River Delta area.

Trump saw the most enthusiastic support in Polk, Searcy and Pike counties, where about 80 percent of voters cast their ballots for him.

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1:25 a.m.

Arkansas voters have handed marijuana advocates a significant victory by making the state the first in the Bible Belt to legalize the drug for medical use, and groups on both sides of the issue are now gearing up for fights over how to set up the program in the coming months.

The medical marijuana proposal was narrowly approved Tuesday despite opposition of several powerful industry groups and the state’s Republican governor, who once served as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The move came four years after a similar measure failed at the ballot box.

Opponents vowed to keep pushing for legislation or regulations to limit the measure, even as the state faces a June 2017 deadline to start taking applications for dispensaries that will sell the drug.


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