County official wins GOP primary for ousted lawmaker’s seat

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — A Garland County justice of the peace won the Republican primary Tuesday for an Arkansas House seat vacated after a lawmaker was ousted for pleading no contest for failing to pay state income taxes.

Richard McGrew defeated Jack Wells in the primary for the House District 22 seat that had been held by former Rep. Mickey Gates. Gates, a Republican who was arrested last year and charged with not filing returns from 2012 through 2017, pleaded no contest in July to one count of not filing or paying income taxes and was sentenced to six months of probation.

The House voted in October to expel Gates, making him the first person to be kicked out of the chamber since the 1800s.

McGrew will face Libertarian Judy Bowers in a March 3 special election that coincides with the 2020 primary. The winner of the special primary will serve the remainder of Gates’ term through 2020.

McGrew and Wells are also running against Richard Midkiff in the regular primary for Gates’s seat on March 3. The winner of that primary will face Bowers in the November election for a full term representing the district beginning in 2021.

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