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US Senator Jan Morgan? Arkansas Republican candidate surges in race for US Senate

Mar 10, 2022

Jan Morgan, Arkansas, US Senate

Former investigative journalist and Second Amendment advocate Jan Morgan is shaking up the race for US Senate and providing a headache for other campaigns.

Morgan is running for the Republican nomination for US Senate and taking on incumbent John Boozman, who had been expected to keep his seat in the upper chamber of the US Congress. Former football player Jake Bequette and a pastor, Heath Loftis, are also on the ballot.

The race for the US Senate in Arkansas has not been followed too closely in the local press. But a few national media outlets have been giving some coverage to Bequette - mainly because an Illinois billionaire has curiously spent $1 million in support of his campaign.

Morgan is likely in second place

Among likely Arkansas voters in the primary, The Texarkana News has learned that Morgan was thought to be in second place for the Republican nomination by at least two rival campaigns at the end of February 2022. Bequette appears to be solid in third place, with Loftis apparently a far distant fourth. 

Although national campaign strategists believe Boozman will avoid a runoff, strong showings from Jan Morgan and Bequette could upend the race. Why is this? The mild-mannered Boozman is well-liked personally, but his political actions are not always popular.

Why is Jan Morgan popular?

So how is Jan Morgan holding firm in the US Senate race when she has raised just over $500,000? We talked to an Arkansas political science expert who told us Morgan doesn't need as much money as other candidates to succeed. 

"Don't put my name on this as I don't want anyone saying I am giving support to Jan Morgan or any other candidate." the publicity-shy professor said. "But [Morgan] doesn't need as much money, because she is well known to a core MAGA constituency and has been fighting for years."

Her timing may be right

The political scientist said the timing of Jan Morgan's run for the US Senate may assist her in the race.

"This is a year of the woman in Arkansas politics as Sarah Huckabee-Sanders will likely become Governor, and a woman could also become Lt. Governor," the professor said. "Additionally, the loss of personal freedoms during the pandemic and the declaration of martial law in Canada play to the advantage for a candidate like Morgan. Voters see her as a fighter."

Fame would follow Morgan to the Senate

The professor wondered: "Can you imagine if Jan Morgan won the Republican nomination for US Senate? I personally don't want to... But she would be a powerful advocate for hard-right conservatives. And she would immediately be one of the most famous women in America." 

The political scientist compared the 2022 US Senate race in Arkansas to Ted Cruz's first race for US Senate and to John Ratcliffe's US House upset win in Northeast Texas against Ralph Hall in 2014. 

"John Ratcliffe only received 29% of the vote in the Republican primary, and the incumbent Hall received 45%. But in the runoff, Ratcliffe, the hardcore conservative, won handily."

The professor said it is not out of the question that this could happen the same way in Arkansas since Northeast Texas voters are "quite similar" demographically to Arkansas voters. 

Morgan received an impressive vote for governor

"Make no mistake: There is a path for Jan Morgan to become Arkansas' next US senator," the political scientist said. "She has only run for office once, spent almost nothing, and got more than 30% of the vote against an incumbent governor in a Republican primary. The only person who has achieved this in modern times [in a party primary against an incumbent governor] was Orval Faubus in the 1980s, who got 33% against Bill Clinton in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. And Faubus was a former governor himself. So if she can figure out a way to get Boozman into a runoff, she could win in the same way Ratcliffe did against Hall."

The professor added that Morgan's 2018 electoral performance was even more impressive in comparison to several well-funded challengers in Texas's March 1, 2022, gubernatorial primary against Gov. Greg Abbott. All of those well-known candidates combined did not get as large of a percentage of the vote as Morgan did in her 2018 primary - which was her first run for public office.

How could Morgan win?

Asked how Jan Morgan could pull off an upset victory, the professor said yard signs are essential for Morgan. "A candidate like Morgan is similar to Donald Trump, and that plays both good and bad for a candidate. On the one hand, her voters will be loyal. But for others to join the team, they need to see that their friends and neighbors support Morgan. That begins and ends with yard signs and word of mouth for a candidate like Morgan in Arkansas."

TV would also be beneficial for Morgan, the political scientist added. Jan Morgan is notorious for not accepting money from special interest groups. So money would need to be raised from individual contributors.

At the end of the telephone interview, the professor said that he felt sure that even Jan Morgan herself does not realize how close she could be to winning a seat in the US Senate.

"Republican primary voters may have decided that they don't want or need another nice guy politician," the political scientist said. "In 2022, they may want someone advocating for personal freedom. If that's what they want, I am sure Jan Morgan would be happy to deliver it."

Arkansas residents first came to know Morgan for her investigative television news reports for local TV news stations, such as  CBS-affiliate KSLA. Jan Morgan is now the owner of a gun range in Hot Springs and an advocate for the Second Amendment with various organizations. She was also recently a vocal advocate against vaccine mandates for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) employees.

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