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Election 2020: Five Takeaways

John Lovett
Times Record
Times Record

1) U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton was reelected Tuesday to a second six-year term, but not without competition. Skipping out on the Arkansas PBS debate in October while campaigning for candidates in other states damaged his integrity with voters. His Libertarian Party challenger, Ricky Dale Harrington, secured over 32% of the state’s votes. It was an unprecedented number for a Libertarian Party candidate in Arkansas.

2) Issue 1, the 0.5% road tax was on a trajectory to pass Tuesday night into a permanent extension with 54.88% approving in 60% of the areas reporting. The state’s sales tax rate is 6.5%. According to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, this 0.5% tax would produce $290 million annually, $205 million of which would go to ARDOT and the other $85 million would go towards city and county street funds.

3) The 0.25% county tax to support the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith support tax failed by a margin of nearly 13%; over 6,000 votes. The tax would have been extended an additional 10 years after 19 years in place to support maintenance operations at the university. Without the annual income of about $6 million from the 0.25% sales tax, UAFS Chancellor Terisa Riley told the Times Record in October the university may be required to increase tuition.

4) A closely watched Sebastian County Circuit Judge runoff race for between Greg Magness and Rita Howard Watkins finally came to a close Tuesday after months of anticipation. With 100% of the areas reporting, the final vote tally was 60.56% for Magness and 39.44% for Watkins. Magness will succeed Judge James O. Cox in January.

5) Former Vice President Joe Biden was in the lead at 11 p.m. Tuesday night with 187 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidential election, but swing states such as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania had not been counted and Florida was leaning toward going to President Donald Trump.