Now that Lt. Gov. Mark Darr will step down from office next month, legislators are planning how to move forward in filling his seat, with one option being to leave it vacant.
In Arkansas, the law requires Gov. Mike Beebe to call a special election 150 days after a vacancy occurs, according to Alex Reed spokesman for the Arkansas secretary of state.
The general election will be held in November, which includes the race for the lieutenant governor’s seat. Legislators across the state are discussing the proposal of a law to ban a special election in a general election year for lieutenant governor.
The General Assembly would take that action when they convene next month for the scheduled fiscal session,
“The appetite, if you will, is to consider legislative change to say that the special election wouldn’t need to be held if the vacancy occurred within the same year as a general election would be filled,” Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, D-Fayetteville, said on Monday (Jan. 13). “I think that makes good sense.”
The announced candidates for lieutenant governor so far are Democrat John Burkhalter and Republican Reps. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville and Andy Mayberry of Hensley. Candidates have until the first week of March to file for office.
Collins and Mayberry would not be allowed to run in a special election, because they already serve in an elected position.
Lindsey said he wouldn’t want voters to get confused with two lieutenant governor races in one year.
“To me, the greater good for the voter is to concentrate on that election for four years,” he said.
Another factor to not having a special election is to save taxpayer money, Collins said.
“We’re not going to have any sessions between the time of the special election and the time that the new lieutenant governor would take over,” Collins said. “So frankly, I think that it’s not worth a million dollars or two million dollars to have an individual there for just a couple of months.”
Beebe will meet with legislative leaders and the attorney general this week, according to the governor’s spokesman.