Barbara Webb, chief administrative law judge for the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission, won a seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court following a hard-fought race that centered heavily on her ties to the Republican Party.
Webb won the seat being vacated by associate Justice Josephine “Jo” Hart, who is retiring. She defeated Pulaski County Circuit Judge Morgan “Chip” Welch.
According to the unofficial vote tallies, Webb received approximately 54.09 percent of the statewide vote compared to Welch’s 45.91 percent. This equates to 217,968 votes for Webb and 184,979 for Welch.
Before the final tallies were announced, Welch conceded the race to Webb, who released a victory statement from her watch party.
“I am honored by the responsibility the voters have entrusted in me. My nearly four decades of experience in Arkansas law– from private practice, to prosecuting attorney, to now Associate Justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court– have prepared me for this moment,”she says. “I am thankful for the countless volunteers who have invigorated this campaign across the State of Arkansas. From Chicot to Benton, Miller to Craighead, and every place in-between, the people of Arkansas have given us all a great reminder of their hospitality and desire for a fair Supreme Court. I look forward to being that fair and independent voice that all Arkansans can trust.”
State Supreme Court races are nonpartisan races, but the race between Webb and Welch attracted notice for the impact that outside political groups had on it, with conservative groups spending millions on advertising.
One group, the Republican State Leadership Committee, spent a reported $225,000 on advertising supporting Webb, who is the wife of Doyle Webb, the state Republican Party chairman.