FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFTA) — In one of the most talked-about upset victories of the night, Democrat Denise Garner unseated State Representative Charlie Collins in House District 84.
Collins made headlines last year when he co-sponsored a law, that expanded where concealed handguns are allowed in Arkansas.
Garner took home around 7,400 votes, while Collins taking home around 6,000. It was a close race, but when it came down to the final numbers, the democrat pulled off the upset.
“I’m still surprised, but like we said we’ve been working a year and it’s been a grassroots campaign retail politics,” Garner said.
“It’s disappointing to lose, but that’s what happens in this arena,” Collins said.
District 84 covers about seven different cities, including Fayetteville.
Collins has represented this district since 2011, until now.
“This time I think in Fayetteville in particular we had a different group of people than who might have gone to the polls, than in say President Obama’s midterm, say 2014.”
Collins sponsored the controversial campus carry bill which allows concealed carry permit holders to carry guns on school campuses and other public locations.
A follow-up measure exempted college sporting facilities and events from that expansion.
Dr. Andrew Dowdle, a University of Arkansas Professor of Political Science, says District 84 is one of the few communities where you have concern about gun violence and opposition to the NRA.
“I think in this case it boiled down to a single issue, it’s basically Collins’ support for gun owner rights,” Dowdle said. “As you ended up seeing more shootings across the country in terms of school shootings, that galvanized support in a way.”
Collins says that although he is associated with this legislation, this has been the case in each of his prior campaigns, and doesn’t believe it impacted this election.
“All republicans did not do well in Fayetteville. However, there were many voters who didn’t appreciate that law and I understand that.”