Sources close to the local Democrat county committee confirm that former Searcy mayor Belinda Laforce intends to challenge Mark Biviano (R) for Arkansas House District 50.
Laforce has recently reemerged, appearing at several community events. This has led to much speculation about her next political step. Many had assumed (and hoped) that her 20-point defeat in last year’s mayoral run-off election would end her involvement in local politics. However, her increased visibility of late, including her new position as chairman of the White County Democrats, has gotten the rumor mill churning.
Many believed White County Election Commission Chairman Winston Collier might throw his hat in the ring, but it appears Laforce will be the party’s pick, rumored to have been recruited by Governor Beebe himself.
However, Biviano compiled quite a conservative voting record in the Arkansas House before this year’s general session ended, including co-sponsorship of HB 1387 that would have lowered the income tax rate for individuals, trusts, and estates.
His record will serve as quite a contrast to Laforce’s dictatorial record as mayor that included three tax increase proposals, one of which was an A&P tax that was pushed through under Laforce’s direction and led to a prolonged legal battle. The tax was ultimately defeated by voters at the conclusion of the lawsuit against Laforce and the city of Searcy.
Also of note: Laforce has not received much more than 40% of the vote in a general election since her initial election in 2002. In 2006, she lost the general election (against two opponents) by 70 votes and went on to win the runoff by only 17 votes.
I will have more numbers & analysis of this race later this week.
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