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Sanders narrowly wins Republican race for state senate

Miller moves forward to be the Republican candidate for Election Day

Posted: May 23, 2012 - 6:53pm

Two Republican primaries were nail-bitingly close Tuesday, even as final unofficial numbers continued to roll in Wednesday.

State Reps. Ed Garner and David Sanders, both of Maumelle, ran a neck-to-neck race for district 15, a state senate seat that includes part of Van Buren, Faulkner, Pulaski and Perry counties and all of Conway County. Garner carried Faulkner and Van Buren counties, but Sanders carried the district.

Sanders will be the Republican candidate on Election Day, according to unofficial results.

“We expected to win,” Sanders said.

Sanders said he thought the low voter turnout made for a tighter race. Only about 18 percent of Faulkner County residents voted, compared to 21 percent of registered voters statewide, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website.

Garner is serving his third term as the representative for district 41. Sanders is serving his first term in the House for district 31.

Garner narrowly took Van Buren and Faulkner counties but failed to gain enough traction across the district. In Faulkner County, local voters cast 683 ballots for Garner, compared to 678 for Sanders with 12 out of 12 precincts reporting Tuesday night. In Van Buren, unofficial results showed voters cast 191 ballots for Garner and 186 for Van Buren — that’s a five vote difference.

No recount has been requested, said Van Buren Deputy Clerk Lori Jones.

District wide, 2,413 votes, or 52 percent, went to Sanders and 2,195 votes, or 48 percent, went to Garner with Van Buren County only partially reporting by Wednesday afternoon, according to the state agency. A spokesman for the agency did not return a message left Wednesday.

By 6 a.m. Wednesday, Sanders was already up making calls and preparing for the general election. Winning Tuesday was just the mid-way point, he said.

“It’s just the first half,” said Sanders, using a football analogy. “Let’s go out to the second half and win the second half.”

Sanders will race against Democrat Johnny Hoyt of Morrilton on Election Day, which is Nov. 6.

In Heber Springs, Josh Miller, city councilman, pulled ahead of Phil Grace, a Cleburne County justice of the peace, Tuesday to take district 66. The district covers the area west of Greenbrier, including Bono and Enola.

On Tuesday night, Miller said he wanted to bring common-sense solutions to state government.

“I have grown tired of politics as usual going on, and the country going down the drain,” Miller said.

Faulkner County voters unofficially approved Miller, giving him 416 votes to Grace’s 191 with eight out of eight precincts reporting. Statewide, the secretary of state’s office showed Miller won by 56 percent of the votes by Wednesday afternoon. District wide, Miller gathered 1,650 votes, compared to 1,278 votes cast for Grace with Van Buren County partially reporting. Numbers from the Van Buren County and Circuit Clerk’s office show Miller took that county with 301 votes to Grace’s 162.

Miller will face Democrat Jeff Pistole of Clinton this fall.

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