Senator Bryan King surprises challenger

State Senator Bryan King (R) of Green Forrest announced he will be a candidate for reelection for Senator of District 5. Senator King had considered not running because of family and farm issues.

State Representative Bob Ballinger (R) of Berryville had already announced he would be a candidate for the Senate seat.  According to the Democrat-Gazette: “Ballinger called King an ‘angry man’ who can’t work with other lawmakers.” Ballinger’s claim was quickly contradicted by the endorsement of Senator King by Representative Charlotte Douglas.

Rep. Douglas also lives in Senate District 5 and at one time also considered running for the Senate seat, if Senator King did not run. In her endorsement on Facebook she said, I’m supporting Sen. Bryan King for Re/election. He is in Budget this morning fighting to limit government, so we can return more money to Arkansans.

The Democrat-Gazette said, “King has become a legislative firebrand, willing to publicly take leaders of his own party to task, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson.” Is being labeled a “firebrand” a bad thing or a good thing? That would depend on whether voters want a Senator to go along with the crowd or a Senator who stands on conservative principles, as promised to the people of the district.

Ballinger’s conflict with King is highlighted by Ballinger’s refusal to support King’s SB175 of 2017 which King proposed to curb Medicaid corruption. Senator King’s bill would have required Medicaid providers to disclose business dealings with legislators and other government officials.  King’s bill easily passed in the state Senate. But the bill was killed in the House Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, chaired by Rep. Ballinger. Although the chairman of a committee may speak for or against a bill and may cast a vote on a bill, Ballinger remained silent and did not vote on his Senator’s bill. (Not voting counts against a bill because the bill must be supported by a majority of the membership of the committee.)

Ballinger and King also disagree on Arkansas Works which is Obamacare Medicaid Expansion. The health insurance program primarily covers able bodied working age adults who do not work.  Ballinger has supported the program through his votes.  King has long been a critic of the program and has warned the costs of the program are taking away funding necessary for citizens with greater needs. When Senator King was chair of the Legislative Audit Committee he ordered an audit of the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion program and the audit was embarrassing to supporters of the Obamacare program.

In 2017, Conduit for Commerce recognized Senator Bryan King’s SB175 of 2017 which was intended to curb Medicaid corruption as the best legislation of 2017, giving him its Calvin Coolidge Heroes of Freedom Award.[i] CFC also ranked Senator King’s record as the top score among Senators.[ii] CFC scored the legislator records based on how legislation in 2017:

  • Reduces the size of government,
  • Reduces dependency on government, and/or
  • Reduces spending by government.

Rep. Bob Ballinger’s 2017 legislative record was also ranked by Conduit for Commerce as being in the top portion of the House of Representatives.  Ballinger was ranked #12 in the House.