Parties look to finalize picks for competitive Arkansas races

Democrats and Republicans finalized their slate of candidates Tuesday for a competitive set of House races this fall in Arkansas.

Primary voters nominated candidates in the state's three open races, while Republicans picked their candidate to challenge Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross (D) in the state's 4th congressional district.

Republican voters overwhelmingly settled on former GOP aide Rick Crawford in the state's 1st congressional district, while Democrat Tim Wooldridge, who serves as executive director of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities, appeared ahead in the six-way Democratic primary. Wooldridge had 34 percent locked up Tuesaday night with just over 30 percent of precincts reporting.

Former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin also easily won the Republican nod in the state's 2nd congressional district, while state Sen. Majority Leader Joyce Elliott led the Democratic pack in the district. Elliott won the support of almost 36 percent of the primary field on Tuesday night, with almost 62 percent of precincts reporting.

Democrat Tim Whitaker, a former Fayetteville assistant city attorney, won the Democratic nomination unopposed in the 3rd district. Mayor Steve Womack of Rogers, Ark., led the GOP pack early with almost 35 percent of the primary and almost nine percent of precincts reporting.

Beth Anne Rankin, an aide to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), also seemed well-positioned to win the Republican nomination to challenge Ross this fall. With 58 percent of precincts reporting, she had locked up 55 percent of the Republican vote.

Democrats will be forced to defend three seats in the Republican-leaning state, while the GOP will have to defend the seat of Rep. John Boozman in the third district. Boozman is running for the Senate this fall.

Rep. Marion Berry (D) is retiring in the first district, and Rep. Vic Snyder (D) is retiring in the second.