For the first time in recent history, Arkansas Republicans will have more contested races on the ballot than the Democrats. In statewide races, 132 candidates have filed to run on the Republican ticket while 88 candidates have filed to run on the Democrat ticket.

This will be a first for most people as they head to the polls on May 20 for the primary races. The only contested statewide race on the Democrat ticket will be for Governor and on the local level (Drew County) the only contested race will be for the Mayor of Wilmar.

The contested state and federal races on the Republican side are:

Governor – Curtis Coleman and Asa Hutchinson
Lt. Governor – Debra Hobbs, Tim Griffin, Andy Mayberry
Attorney General – David Sterling, Patricia Nation, Leslie Rutledge
Treasurer – Dennis Milligan, Duncan Baird
Auditor – Ken Yang, Andrea Lea
4th Congressional District – Bruce Westerman, Tommy Moll

Arkansas is an “open” state when it comes to primary elections. That means that voters do not have to register beforehand to determine which party primary they will vote in. Instead, the voter simply tells the poll worker when he or she arrives at the poll which primary he or she wants to vote in. At no point is the poll worker allowed to encourage or coax the voter into voting in a certain primary.

People in Southeast Arkansas are accustomed to voting in the Democrat primary as this is where most candidates have historically filed. However, after the 2012 elections, the Republican Party took control of the state Senate and state House prompting a wave of people filing as Republicans. The main reason for this is because of the major differences in the two parties’ platforms which are listed below.

Economy
Republican Party — Provide tax relief to all Americans and rein in government spending and reduce regulations.
Democrat Party — Raise taxes by allowing tax cuts to expire and spend more money on “stimulus” projects.

2nd Amendment
Republican Party — Opposes legislation intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights or ban guns.
Democrat Party — Supports efforts to pass laws that would ban many commonly used firearms.

Healthcare
Republican Party — Will repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered, market-based reforms.
Democrat Party — Believes Obamacare is the best way to reform healthcare and opposes its repeal.

Traditional Marriage
Republican Party — Supports Traditional Marriage defined as one man and one woman.
Democrat Party — Explicitly endorses homosexual marriage.

Abortion
Republican Party: Believes that unborn children have an “inalienable right to life” as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
Democrat Party: Opposes “any and all efforts” to weaken abortion for any reason whatsoever.

These are the top five issues facing both political parties. As our State moves more to the right, people are finding that more choices are being offered in the Republican Primary. The last day to register to vote in the 2014 primary is April 21.

Diana Harton is the chairman of the Drew County Republican Party