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election despite outside spending

edit:casino time:2018-11-08

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas Supreme Court justice won re-election Tuesday night, surviving a flurry of attack ads and mailers from a Washington-based conservative group that spent more than $1.2 million in the weeks leading up to the midterm trying to unseat her.

Arkansas voters, meanwhile, approved a constitutional amendment requiring photo identification before casting a ballot, a measure to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage, and legalized casinos in four counties.

Here are the top races in Arkansas’ election:

COURT FIGHT

Months after outside groups spent big trying to unseat her, Justice Courtney Goodson won her re-election fight against David Sterling. The Republican State Leadership Committee’s Judicial Fairness Initiative spent more than $1.2 million this fall on the race.

RSLC has been running ads saying Sterling shares President Donald Trump and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s agenda. The group in one ad criticized Goodson over donations she received from trial attorneys, and a mailer targeted her for the high court striking down a voter ID law in 2014. A federal judge last week rejected Goodson’s effort to halt an attack ad and mailer from the group.

Similar attacks sank Goodson’s bid for chief justice two years ago, and she portrayed the race as a referendum on outside group spending in judicial races.

Sterling ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for attorney general four years ago, and noted his membership in the National Rifle Association and the Federalist Society in campaign literature.

“I thought Justice Goodson did a good job of running a race and withstanding a lot of negative ads and criticism by the third party,” Sterling said Tuesday night.

BALLOT MEASURES

Proposals to raise Arkansas’ minimum wage and put a voter ID requirement in the state’s constitution passed, as did a casino legalization measure.

The initiative approved Tuesday would raise Arkansas’ minimum wage gradually from $8.50 an hour to $11.

The voter ID measure adds the requirement to show photo identification to the list of qualifications to vote in Arkansas. Arkansas already has a voter ID law in effect that the state Supreme Court upheld last month.

Voters also legalized casinos in four Arkansas counties, including at a dog track and a horse track that already offer video poker and other forms of electronic gambling.

The state Supreme Court last month disqualified two other ballot measures imposing strict term limits on lawmakers and capping damages awarded in civil lawsuits. The proposals remained on the ballot, but the state is barred from counting any votes for or against them.

SOLIDLY RED ARKANSAS

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson won re-election and the GOP maintained control of Arkansas’ partisan statewide offices, including the three that will be in charge of redrawing legislative districts after the 2020 Census.

Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge defeated Democratic challenger Mike Lee, a former consumer product regulator. Republican Land Commissioner John Thurston defeated Democrat Susan Inman in the race for secretary of state. Those two offices and the governor sit on the Board of Apportionment that will redraw state House and Senate districts in three years.

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at

For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections:

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