Arkansas lawmaker who opposed primary change leaves GOP

By ANDREW DeMILLOAssociated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas lawmaker who split with top Republicans over the state moving its primaries from May to March says he's left the GOP and is now an independent.

Rep. Nate Bell of Mena on Tuesday said he believes he can best represent his west Arkansas district and his values as an independent. The Polk County clerk confirmed Bell changed his voter registration on Monday.

Bell declined to elaborate on why he changed party affiliation, but the move comes days after the Legislature voted to move up the primary as part of an effort to create a regional presidential nominating contest. Bell chairs the House State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee which heard the proposal, and spoke against moving up the primary date.

Bell has served in the House since 2011.

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