Five of six Arkansas state lawmakers who supported last year’s gas tax increase and faced March 3 primary opposition won their race, and 68 transportation investment supporters faced no opposition in their contest. Their success is consistent with the results of thousands of races the Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (ARTBA-TIAC) has tracked since 2013: supporting state gas taxes seldom hurts state politicians.
Primary contests have particular relevance when monitoring whether transportation investment supporters are drawing in-party opposition. ARTBA-TIAC is tracking more than 300 state lawmakers through the primaries and the Nov. 3 General Election. New resources are coming soon to provide deeper analysis of the results.
Of the Arkansas lawmakers who voted on 2019 Senate Bill 336 and are seeking reelection:
• 73 of 74 legislators who voted yes won their primary. Only six (8.1 percent) faced opposition on March 3, with one loss.
• All 29 lawmakers who voted no won their contest. Two (6.9 percent) faced opposition on March 3.
• 49 Republicans supported the tax. Five (10.2 percent) faced primary challenges, and four won their race.
• 29 Republicans voted against the tax. Only two (6.9 percent) faced primary challenges, which they won.
• 25 Democrats supported the gas tax, with one (4 percent) successfully overcoming primary opposition. No Democrat voted against SB 336.
• 27 state lawmakers who voted on the tax are either not running this year or don’t face reelection until 2022. Five lawmakers did not vote on the tax.
See TIAC’s earlier report on 2019 legislation to increase Arkansas’ gas tax.
ARTBA-TIAC has tracked over 3,300 state lawmakers who voted on legislation to increase the gas tax since 2013. Ninety-two percent of lawmakers who voted for a gas tax and stood for reelection were returned back to the state house by voters, the same percentage as lawmakers who voted against a gas tax increase. An additional 322 lawmakers who voted on a gas tax bill in three states are up for reelection in 2020, including the Arkansas legislators.