BLOG: Summers, Hester Agree On Keeping Benton County Dry; Feud Over Push Poll

The two Republicans running in state Senate District 1 say they oppose an effort to make Benton County wet.

Rep. Tim Summers, R-Bentonville, and political newcomer Bart Hester of Cave Springs expressed their views on the wet/dry issue this week while taping “5NEWS Presents: The City Wire.” The program, which focuses on public affairs, business and the arts, airs Saturdays at 8 a.m. on KXNW TV-34 and Sundays at 6 a.m. on KFSM TV-5.

The show featuring Summers and Hester airs tomorrow and Sunday. The broadcast will be online Monday at 5NEWSonline.com.

A group seeking to make Benton County wet by opening it to retail alcohol sales is gathering signatures to have the issue placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. The group, Keep Dollars in Benton County, is mostly financed by Steuart and Tom Walton, who each have contributed at least $110,000 to the signature-gathering effort.

Meanwhile, the Summers campaign, which already is airing a television ad in Northwest Arkansas touting the candidate, today began phoning registered voters in the Senate district with a recorded message. The message is intended to counter what the Summers campaign characterizes as a “push poll” this week asserting Summers supports Obamacare.

Hester and the Rogers-based Arkansas branch of Americans for Prosperity said they are not responsible for the push poll. Some aligned with the conservative group are supporting Hester.

District 1 encompasses Bentonville and surrounding areas. The state Board of Apportionment, redrawing district boundaries following the 2010 Census, added the seat to central Benton County this summer to account for growth in the area.

Summers and Hester are the only GOP candidates vying for the seat in the May 22 primary election. No Democrats filed to run in the district.

The race between Summers and Hester is expected to heat up even more with the election less than a month away and early voting starting May 7.

Both candidates will have money to spend in the final weeks. The latest campaign contribution and expenditure reports show Summers had $47,131 in the bank at the end of March, while Hester had $41,995.

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