Democrats choose Burch in convention

In what was likely the most obvious outcomes in Southeast Arkansas politics, the Drew and Ashley County Democratic parties officially named retired U.S. Army Brigadier General LeAnne Burch to replace the late Rep. Sheilla Lampkin on the November general election ballot.

Burch was nominated by Drew County delegates at a special convention called for that purpose last Thursday, while Ashley County delegates selected Candace Jeffress, the wife of former state Sen. Jimmy Jeffress and a teacher in the Hamburg School District.

By secret ballot at the University of Arkansas at Monticello Fine Arts Center, Burch won the nomination by a 6-5 vote. Former Sen. Jeffress then moved to declare Burch the winner by acclamation, uniting the party behind her.     

“I’m running because I love Southeast Arkansas,” Burch said in her campaign speech during the rare nominating convention, “and I’m running because if we don’t have that strong voice in the state capitol we are going to lose some of that incredible momentum that Sheilla Lampkin brought to this community.

“I think I have some unique qualities that will help amplify that strong voice I think we need at the state capitol.”

Once the convention ended, the new nominee noted: “Now the journey really begins—but in a good way. Now I get to be really serious about getting all the information people are interested in that I don’t already know. I really appreciate the support of the community to help better take care of District 9.”

For her part, Candace Jeffress pledged her total support to Burch.

“I will take her around personally in Ashley County and introduce her to all the people she doesn’t know,” Candace Jeffress said. “We’ve already talked about when she’s going to come down there. I back her totally.”

Burch’s name will appear both on the general election ballot and on a special election ballot. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, by state law, called for the special election to fill out the remainder of Lampkin’s term.

Both elections will be on Nov. 8.

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