French Hill wins re-election against Democratic challenger Clarke Tucker

U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, left, and Arkansas Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock (Photos courtesy of French Hill and Arkansas House of Representatives)

U.S. Rep. French Hill has won re-election against state Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, in a heated race for Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District.

Hill, Republican from Little Rock, returns to Congress for a third term. Democrats had been hoping the seat in the Republican-majority state could be flipped as part of their bid to retake Congress, but Hill's victory over Tucker and Libertarian candidate Joe Swafford keeps the seat in GOP hands.

Talk Business & Politics called the race for Hill with 100 percent of precincts reporting. Unofficial vote totals were:

Hill: 131,712 - 52 percent

Tucker: 115,564 - 46 percent

Swafford: 5,176 - 2 percent

Tucker, 37, was aiming to become the first Democrat elected to represent Arkansas in Congress since 2010. The two-term state legislator has criticized Hill over his vote to repeal the federal health care law last year. Tucker said a bout with bladder cancer last year and House Republicans' vote to repeal the health care law motivated him to challenge Hill.

Hill ran a series of ads trying to link Tucker with national Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. He also has criticized Tucker as soft on immigration and for the times he voted "present" or didn't cast a vote on controversial bills in the state House.

The race drew national attention. Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's PAC ran online ads and sent out mailers targeting Tucker, while the Democrats' congressional campaign arm has run TV spots attacking Hill over health care. Both candidates last month condemned a political action committee's radio ad in favor of Hill that suggested white Democrats would lynch black Americans if they won the midterm election.

Hill, 61, was first elected to Congress in 2014. He serves on the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services as the Majority Whip.

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