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Republicans aim to maintain Arkansas dominance in election

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., speaks to his supporter's at the Republican Party election night rally in Little Rock, Ark. The incumbent is running again in 2020. A Democratic state senator hopes to flip a House seat in solidly red Arkansas on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, and become the first Black member of Congress from the state. Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott was challenging incumbent Hill for Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, which includes Little Rock and seven central Arkansas counties. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson, File)

By ANDREW DeMILLO Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Republicans hoped to maintain their dominance in Arkansas on Tuesday, with Sen. Tom Cotton running a reelection campaign that has all the hallmarks of a 2024 White House bid.

Few surprises were expected for Cotton or President Donald Trump in solidly red Arkansas. The only Democrat running against Cotton abruptly withdrew his candidacy last year hours after the filing deadline.

Cotton is being challenged by Libertarian nominee Ricky Dale Harrington, a former prison chaplain who’s never run for public office before.

With millions in campaign cash to spend, Cotton has run ads in battleground states like Ohio and Michigan, and campaigned with endangered Senate GOP colleagues.

Trump has remained popular in Arkansas, four years after winning the state and despite dissatisfaction nationwide over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday’s election also features three measures the Republican Legislature sent to voters. One of them is a proposal to permanently extend a half-cent sales tax for highways.

The proposal has the backing of Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state’s top lobbying groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce. An unlikely coalition of groups on the right and left, including Americans for Prosperity and the Sierra Club, are campaigning against the measure.

Another proposal would ease legislative term limits and the other would place new restrictions on the ballot initiative process.

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