LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas preferential primary elections have come and gone, but the busy night made history for a few candidate “firsts”.
Politicians on all sides broke barriers with Tuesday night’s wins, with a number of top Arkansas positions up for grabs by a new type of candidate; for many, history in the making.
Among the red, white, and blue of Arkansas’ primary election, one word stood out: history, a breakthrough for candidates not previously represented – women and African Americans now one step closer to various Natural State offices for the very first time.
Democrat Natalie James is one such “first”, the first African American and only third woman to be nominated for U.S. senate.
“It feels amazing,” James said.
James is set to go up against incumbent Senator John Boozman (R) in November’s general election, a historic run that isn’t lost on the nominee.
“This legacy isn’t for me,” James explained. “It’s for all the other little boys and girls, it’s for everybody else to see what they can do.”
That idea of “legacy” was echoed by gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones, the first black Democratic nominee for Governor of Arkansas.
“Regardless of what happens,” Jones said, “we’re going to have either the first female governor or the first African American governor. That’s historic.”
Jones is referring to his opponents – Ricky Dale Harrington, Jr., the libertarian candidate, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders – the republican candidate and possibly the first female governor.
Some voters see Sander’s win as a boost for women across the Natural State, with the possibility of a double win come November. Republican Leslie Rutledge is trying to join the historic team, a possible first female lieutenant governor to add to the list of “firsts”.
“The first female elected governor, the first female elected lieutenant governor,” Rutledge exclaimed, “we’re going to make history.”
With a night full of firsts, the fight isn’t over. Many are hoping the next election night in just a few months’ time will be even more groundbreaking when some of these candidates are elected to office.
“Tonight folks, we won,” Rutledge announced to a room full of support. “But tomorrow, we get back to work.”