The pair seeking to represent State Senate District 28 both ran against State Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, in 2018. They now face each other in the Nov. 8 general election.
Green Forest’s Bryan King won his Republican primary against incumbent Ballinger in May. King makes an attempt at a legislative comeback. He was the incumbent senator who lost his 2018 primary to Ballinger.
This year’s Democratic nominee is Jim Wallace of Eureka Springs, who was Ballinger’s opponent in the 2018 general election.
The faces of the race may look familiar, but the neighborhood has changed. The state redrew legislative district boundaries after the 2020 U.S. Census to even out populations. District 28 includes all of Madison and Carroll counties; most of Newton County; the western two-thirds of Boone County, including the town of Harrison; and parts of northern Franklin and Johnson counties.
The district stretched from the Missouri border north to south of the Arkansas River in Sebastian County.
State senators normally serve four-year terms and receive a base salary of $44,357. The Senate has 35 members. Early voting begins October 24.
Wallace garnered 29.1% of the vote in his 2018 race. None of the candidates in this year’s race take that result as a serious indicator of what will happen this year, both said in interviews.
“When I first ran for the Legislative Assembly in 2006, the Democrats were as dominant as the Republicans are now,” King said in a phone interview. “So I know it’s difficult, but possible, to win a race by running uphill.”
“I started out knowing I had to run hard to win, and I can never get out of that mindset,” he said.
Defeat is a good teacher, Wallace said in his interview.
“I learned a lot in that race and now have some name recognition,” Wallace said.
He also said Republicans are more fractured now than they were in 2018.
“There were five people in that primary,” Wallace said of the Republican primary this year. “I think there’s some frustration there.”
King won the primary in a runoff.
King cited both his legislative experience, his focus on fighting corruption and his livelihood as a farmer and rancher as advantages in the rural district.
Wallace said district residents have needs ignored by the state government, while experienced lawmakers boast a $1.6 billion surplus.
“Crime is an issue that I hear a lot about” during the campaign, King said. “People more often find missing items worth $400 or $500, in places where you could leave your keys in your vehicle.”
Another aspect of public safety for rural residents is a priority for Wallace, the Democrat said. He is a volunteer firefighter and medical first responder in the Inspiration Point Rural Fire Protection District. Equipment in his department and others is getting so old that it’s difficult and expensive to get spares, especially for radios, he said. The average age of volunteers is also progressing, he said.
Bryan King (R)
Residence: Green Forest, 45
Occupation: Farmer and breeder
Education: Bachelor of Animal Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Political experience: State House, 2006 to 2012; State Senate, 2012 to 2018
Jim Wallace (D)
Hometown: Five miles west of Eureka Springs since 1998
Occupation: Retired fine arts teacher at Muskingum University, New Concord, Ohio; owner of Paradise Pottery at home
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of Nebraska; Master of Fine Arts at Texas A&M University, Commerce, Texas
Political Experience: Failed Campaign for State Senate, 2018