Last night’s election results were unlike anything I’ve seen in recent history. Everyone has pointed out the historic gains Republicans made in the U.S. House—such as the fact that this was the biggest gain for a political party in Congress in 62 years. However, there are a number of notable shifts right here in Arkansas.
For instance, there’s only one time I am aware of a Republican winning the First Congressional Seat in Arkansas: 1868, during Reconstruction. Last night, however, Rick Crawford won his race for Congress.
I’m not sure that a Republican has ever been elected State Land Commissioner in Arkansas, but that’s what happened last night.
Arkansas Republicans were hoping they would wake up on November 3 with 40 seats in the Arkansas House of Representatives. Instead they got 44. To put things into perspective, yesterday the Republicans had 27 seats. On the second Monday of January, when new representatives are sworn in, they will have 44. That practically splits the Arkansas House between the two parties.
In the Arkansas Senate, Republicans had 8 seats (out of 35 total) going into the election. Today they have 15. Between the House and the Senate, Republicans have made unprecedented gains.
Mark Martin won his bid for Secretary of State when a lot of folks said it couldn’t be done. Mark Darr won out over Shane Broadway—who many said was a shoo-in because of all the years he served in the Arkansas Legislature.
The big wins weren’t just for Republicans, though. Mike Beebe won an overwhelming victory in spite of the Republican-shift we saw last night, and Mike Ross will continue serving in the U.S. House—and may come away from this more powerful than ever, as he can establish himself as a moderate Democrat who can help broker agreements between the Blue Dog Democrats and the new Republicans in Congress.
The bottom line is this, however: If you’ve lived in Arkansas over the past 50+ years like I have, you know what a blue state Arkansas has traditionally been, and how significant it is to have so many Republicans now serving in Arkansas politics. It makes me think we may actually be turning into a wholly two-party state.