With 62 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Cotton. He had 56 percent of ballots cast, Rankin had 38 percent and a third candidate, John Cowart, had 6 percent.
Cotton, a Harvard Law School graduate who volunteered for the Army infantry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is the favorite to become the Congressman in this open Republican-leaning seat. Rep. Mike Ross (D) announced his retirement last July.
The winner of a likely June 12 Democratic runoff between state Sen. Gene Jeffress and attorney Q. Byrum Hurst will face off against Cotton, most recently a consultant at McKinsey & Co., in November. At 12:10 a.m., the AP had yet to call that primary race.
Cotton has been an extraordinary fundraiser and poses a huge challenge to Democrats looking to keep this seat.