Benton County House candidates focus on tax philosophy in runoff race


BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/Fox 24) — Benton County’s District 91 House primary runoff features two Republicans battling to face Democrat Nick Jones in November. In an attempt to court the voters who supported the third candidate in the initial primary, the candidates reiterated their qualifications and focused on a topic that separates them: taxes.

Scott Richardson (R) took home more votes than opponent Delia Haak (R), and he runs on an economic-policy platform that advocates for using Arkansas’ state surplus to pay for new infrastructure rather than raising taxes under any circumstances.

“Looking at the specific issue that came up that kind of defined some of it was the half-cent sales tax,” Richardson said.

Richardson said he’s strictly opposed to extending the half-cent sales tax for highways. Haak said she’s for low taxes but wants voters to have the power of choice.

“I always want the people to be the ones to decide what they would like to invest their hard-earned money in,” Haak said.

Neither candidate could secure the majority vote needed to win the primary, so they’re still in the hunt during this runoff, one of two in the county. The District 90 race features Rep. Jana Della Rosa facing a challenge from Kendon Underwood. Incumbent Rep. Dan Douglas (R) isn’t running for reelection in Benton County’s District 91, so the Republican primary was open this cycle.

Andrew Dowdle, a political science professor at the University of Arkansas, said primary runoffs typically feature candidates who agree on most issues.

“Runoff races typically have low turnout,” Dowdle said. “Some of the mobilization involves trying to get friends, family and associates to get their network of people to vote based on personal or group appeals. Other times, candidates will try to use the previous election voter turnout rolls to target those prior voters with direct mail or door knocks.”

Both District 91 candidates said they’re following that idea.

“We are going back to all the doors that we’ve knocked on and all the folks that did turn out in the last election,” Haak said.

The low-turnout typicality described by Dowdle means the candidates will press to get the most votes.

“Whoever turns out the best voters, voter numbers in the runoff will ultimately gain this prize, I’m quite certain,” Richardson said.

Election day is March 31.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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