Hallum wins District 54 special election for Arkansas State House
By Tyler Millhouse
Arkansas held a special election Tuesday to fill a vacancy in Arkansas House District 54. The vacancy was created when Fred Smith (D) was convicted of theft for failing to repay a school district a duplicate payment of over $29,000. Smith resigned, but promised to appeal the decision. Democrat Hudson Hallum, Republican John Geelan, and Independent D'James Rogers all vied for the seat. Ultimately, Hallum defeated Geelan and Rogers, 987-415-537. Hallum is a small business owner, firefighter, and paramedic.
Hallum's election was marred by two controversies surrounding absentee ballots and campaign finance. The Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners sent a poll monitor to observe the special election as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations made by Democratic primary candidate Kim Felker. Felker claims that she received an offer to illegally obtain absentee votes, an offer she refused. Felker was defeated in the primary by eight votes, but lost the absentee vote 69-401. Hallum said that he observed no irregularities in the primary, but had no objection to the monitor. He also noted that the "offer," as recorded on Felker's answering machine, did not appear to offer anything illegal. The man now known to have left the message, Leroy Grant, said that he only intended to connect Felker with voters interested in voting for her.
In addition, state Republicans have filed an ethics complaint against Hallum for $50,000 in campaign expenses that were not itemized in the campaign's finance report. Hallum's campaign called the irregularity an "oversight" and said they sent the completed report on Monday as soon as they realized the mistake. The Hallum campaign argued that the ethics complaint was simply a distraction.
Since Hallum replaced a fellow Democrat, Fred Smith, his victory will not change the partisan balance of the house.
Arkansas State House Partisan Balance
|Party||As of April 2014|
- Arkansasmatters.com, "Arkansas State Rep. Fred Smith Resigns," January 26, 2011
- Today's TVH, "Hudson Hallum wins special election for E. Ark. House seat" July 12, 2011
- Arkansas News, "Authorities investigating East Ark. primary, monitors requested," July 4, 2011
- Arkansas News, "State to send monitors to observe East Arkansas election," July 6, 2011
- My FOX Memphis, "Arkansas Election Riddled with Controversy," July 12, 2011