Goodson, Sterling advance to runoff election in Arkansas Supreme Court race

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson (left) and David Sterling, chief counsel for the Arkansas Dept. of Human Services (right) (Photos courtesy: Arkansas Judiciary website and David Sterling for Arkansas)

Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson and challenger David Sterling have advanced to a runoff election in November, prolonging a race marked by political ads funded by a group outside the state.

Goodson, who resides in Fayetteville, is seeking her second eight-year term on the state's high court. Sterling, of Little Rock, is the chief legal counsel for the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

The two received more votes than a third candidate, state Court of Appeals judge Kenneth Hixson, but none received the more than 50 percent of votes required to win election Tuesday.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial vote totals were:

Goodson: 111,162 votes - 37.2 percent

Sterling: 101,555 votes - 33.98 percent

Hixson: 86,129 votes - 28.82 percent

The non-partisan race for Position 3 associate justice continues as Goodson sues several Arkansas TV stations, including KATV, that aired political ads criticizing her and Hixson. The ads were paid for by the Judicial Crisis Network, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative group that reportedly poured more than $530,000 into advertisements across Arkansas during the election cycle.

Goodson first filed suit May 14 on grounds that the ads were false and defamatory. A Washington County circuit judge issued a temporary restraining order that day that stopped some TV stations from airing the ads.

On Friday, a second judge ordered TV stations in the Little Rock area to stop airing the ads.

Goodson is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law. She was a state Court of Appeals judge from 2009 to 2011.

Sterling was a private attorney for 20 years before he went to work for the state. He ran for state attorney general in 2014. Sterling is graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.

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