GOPAC’s Top Races to Watch: Arkansas State Senate and House of Representatives

There’s big news in Arkansas this cycle as Republicans are poised to take control of the State Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. If they are successful, every legislature in the South – from Virginia down to Florida and westward to Texas – will be controlled by the GOP.

In Arkansas, Republicans are challenging the status quo of Democratic Party rule with a plan for bold, conservative reform. The House GOP’s “SIMPLE Plan” calls for spending restraint, income tax reform, Medicaid sustainability, protecting Arkansas’ future, legal and regulatory reform, and educational excellence.

By contrast, Arkansas Democrats have been fierce advocates for the establishment of health insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare despite the $400 million shortfall expected in 2013. Consistent failures like these have opened the door for Republicans to make big gains in The Natural State this year. A recent Talk Business/Hendrix College poll showed Arkansas Republicans leading Democrats 49 to 36 percent in state legislative races.

Republicans in the State Senate currently hold 15 of 35 seats. With 18 seats needed for a majority, they are predicting enough wins this year to put them with at least 20. In the State House, the GOP holds 46 of 100 seats. They expect big gains on Election Day, pushing 60 seats, beyond the 51 needed for majority control. Here’s a look at GOPAC’s top six races in the Arkansas Senate and House that will make the difference in moving the final state in the South to a full Republican majority on Election Day:

Senate District 19: Rep. Linda Collins-Smith (R) vs Sen. David Wyatt (D)

  • Senate District 19: All of Independence, Izard and Sharp County and parts of Randolph and Fulton Counties
  • Voter make-up: Traditionally Democrat
  • GOP Challenging Democratic Incumbent

GOPAC Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas was elected as a Democratic State Representative in 2010. As a freshman legislator and small-business owner, Linda found herself at odds with the Democratic Party and voted with Republicans on legislation ranging from jobs and tax reform to pro-life issues.
In August 2011, Linda switched parties and became the 46th Republican member of the Arkansas House. Since then, she has criss-crossed the state educating voters on issue and policy differences between the political parties.

Now, Linda is running for State Senate against Democratic Senator David Wyatt on a platform of jobs, values, and limited government.

An ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, Linda is a Life Member of the NRA, Vice-Chair of Hardy Arkansas Friends of NRA, a supporter of ILA-NRA-Legislative, and she received an “A” rating from the NRA. In her own words, “We, the people, can take America back, one state at a time, beginning in Arkansas.”

Support Linda Collins-Smith for Senate at

Senate District 34: Rep. Jane English (R) vs Rep. Barry Hyde (D)

  • Senate District 34: Part of Pulaski County (North of Arkansas River)
  • Voter make-up: Toss up
  • Open Seat

GOPAC No one has been a stronger advocate for real transparency in state government than Rep. Jane English. From authoring bills giving tax relief to military families to providing much-needed oversight of the executive branch, Jane has worked tirelessly to create a more efficient and effective government.

Jane is running for State Senate in District 34 against Democratic opponent, Rep. Barry Hyde, who has recently criticized Jane for being the wife of a United States veteran.
Jane is a leader for veterans and active military, serving as the Vice Chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve in Arkansas. She is currently finishing her first term in the Arkansas House, and as a State Senator will continue her work to create jobs, and bring transparency and oversight to government.

Support Jane English for Senate at

Senate District 35: Sen. Jason Rapert (R) vs Rep. Linda Tyler (D)

  • Senate District 35: Large part of Faulkner County and piece of Perry County
  • Voter make-up: Lean Republican
  • GOP Incumbent

GOPAC Republican Senator Jason Rapert was first elected to the Arkansas Senate in 2010. He faces Democratic State Rep. Linda Tyler in his race for re-election to Senate District 35.

Senator Rapert is the president and co-owner of a financial investment firm in Conway. He is the founder of Holy Ghost Ministries, Inc. and is a true servant in the community, having served as past president of the Conway Rotary Club and on several boards of directors including the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and Conway Christian School Foundation.

During his tenure in the State Legislature, Jason has fought for common-sense conservative principles, standing up against the implementation of Obamacare while working to provide relief to hardworking Arkansas taxpayers. He is also the Chairman of the Fayetteville Shale Caucus and is committed to making Arkansas the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

On the other hand, his opponent Linda Tyler helped defeat 10 pro-life bills as Chairman of the Public Health Committee.

Senator Jason Rapert has been endorsed by U.S. Senator John Boozman, U.S. Congressman Tim Griffin, Lt. Governor Mark Darr, Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston, Senator Gilbert Baker, Former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Congressman Ed Bethune, the NRA, Arkansas Right to Life, Conway Firefighters Association of Arkansas and the Police Benevolent Association.

Support Senator Jason Rapert at

House District 32: Rep. Allen Kerr (R) vs Barbara Graves (D)

  • House District 32: Part of Pulaski County (West Little Rock)
  • Voter make-up: Lean Republican
  • GOP Incumbent

GOPAC As a successful businessman and experienced legislator, Allen Kerr of West Little Rock has provided citizens with a voice for common sense in Arkansas state government since 2008. He is running for re-election in House District 32 against Democrat Barbara Graves.

For over 30 years, Allen Kerr has managed his own insurance agency, and it was that financial insight that eventually led him to serve as Budget Chairman of the Pulaski County Quorum Court.

After being elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2008, Allen worked to uncover abuse of taxpayer dollars by elected officials who were double dipping by collecting a paycheck and a pension.

While his Democratic opponent is well-known as a former City Director and the owner of a women’s store, Rep. Allen Kerr has a proven record of fiscal reform during his tenure in the Legislature. If re-elected to a third term this November, Allen will continue to bring commonsense, financial responsibility, and effective leadership to the State House.

Support State Representative Allen Kerr at

House District 73: Mary Bentley (R) vs Rep. John Catlett (D)

  • House District 73: Parts of Perry, Yell, Conway, and Pope Counties
  • Voter make-up: Traditionally Democrat
  • GOP Challenging Democratic Incumbent

GOPAC Mary Bentley built her business in Perryville, Arkansas, over a decade ago, and since then has risen to become one of the most successful drink ware manufacturers in the country. She is running as a Republican candidate in the 73rd House District against Democratic incumbent Rep. John Catlett to create a business-friendly environment in the state.
As the owner of Bentley Plastics, Mary knows it’s difficult for small businesses to function and prosper with the high tax burden in Arkansas.

As a state legislator, she will work to deliver relief to hardworking Arkansans and small businesses while opposing job-killing measures like Obamacare. By contrast, her opponent Democrat John Catlett has a record of supporting health insurance exchanges and the implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas — over-regulation that is certain to crush small business in the state.

“Obamacare is a job killer, a huge increase to our national debt, a threat to our religious freedoms and unfortunately does nothing to control healthcare cost,” Mary explains on her campaign website.

Support Mary Bentley for State Representative at

House District 82: Bill Gossage (R) vs Rep. Leslee Milam Post (D)

  • House District 82: Most of Franklin County, parts of Madison and Crawford Counties
  • Voter make-up: Lean Republican
  • GOP Challenging Democratic Incumbent

GOPAC Republican Bill Gossage of Ozark has spent over thirty years working in Arkansas’ public education system. He is running to represent the 82nd House District against incumbent Democrat Rep. Leslee Milam Post.

As a current assistant superintendent and former counselor and principal, Bill knows Arkansas can do better when it comes to education excellence and ensuring student achievement.

In announcing his candidacy Gossage said, “It’s time to discuss job-creation, getting the government off the backs of the people and small businesses, and protecting the sanctity of precious human life.”

Bill, who held a commanding 25-point lead over his opponent in August, has been endorsed by the Southern States Police Benevolent Association and Arkansas Right to Life. He has also been endorsed by the National Rifle Association for being a “solidly pro-gun candidate” while his opponent Rep. Post received an “F” rating in 2010 and a “D” rating in 2012.

Support Bill Gossage for State Representative at