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Murdock (finally) officially declared District 9 winner


State Representative claims seat after delayed vote tally in tight senate race

By Ralph Hardin

After two weeks of at least some uncertainty, the race to fill the Arkansas State Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Keith Ingram is officially over.

State Rep. Reginald Murdock of Marianna has been certified as the winner of the State Senate District 9 race over opponent, Poplar Grove businessman Terry Fuller.

The results were delayed due to issues with the results in Phillips County, one of four Arkansas counties to be included in some part in District 9, along with Crittenden, St. Francis and Lee counties.

Though the election night results that were counted before the Phillips County rolls were tallies showed Murdock with a slim 900vote lead, there remaind the possibility, however unlikely, that Fuller might have secured enough support in the remaining ballot boxes to stage a comeback.

However, Murdock ended up widening his lead, as Phillips County went to the state representative from Marianna 2,322 to 1,941, meaning that in an election where the Republican Party expanded its presence in the state, Murdock was able to hold the historically Democratic seat for his party.

Overall, Murdock won 53.5% of the vote to Fuller’s 46.49% (10,119 to 8,793). Murdock won in Lee, St. Francis and Phillips counties, while Fuller managed a slim victory in Crittenden County by 79 votes (5,384-5,305).

While it is not entirely unusual to have some delays in counting the votes in any election, the situation in Phillips County was significant enough that State Rep. Aaron Pilkington petitioned Phillips County Judge Clark Hall and Secretary of State John Thurston for an explanation via a letter a week after the election passed with no resolution.

“The speed with which the votes were counted and reported to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office is troubling,” wrote Pilkington. “I am inclined to ask the Joint Performance Review to conduct an investigation.”

The results were not officially reported to the Secretary of State until Wednesday, Nov. 23. As Pilkington’s letter suggests, there remains the unaddressed issue of why the votes were late.

“I would first like to request from you an explanation of the issues that may have been encountered in your county leading to the delay,” the letter states.

“I appreciate your attention in this matter and look forward to hearing from you.”

In the meantime, Murdock and his staff will be working on transitioning his base of operations from the Arkansas House to the Arkansas Senate. The 2023 General Assembly of the Arkansas State Legislature will commence in just a few weeks, on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Little Rock. State Republicans will have a super-majority in both houses as well as control of the governor’s seat as new Governor Sarah Huckabee is sworn into office.

Data courtesy of the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office

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