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Cotton Leads by 18

9:22 AM, May 14, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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A new poll released Sunday shows Tom Cotton opening up a large lead over Beth Anne Rankin in the Republican primary race for Congress in Arkansas's Fourth District. The Talk Business-Hendrix College poll shows Cotton, an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, with 51 percent support, 18 points ahead of Rankin at 33 percent. A third candidate, John Cowart, registered in the single digits.

Tom Cotton

The 1994 Miss Arkansas, Rankin was tied with Cotton in the last Talk Business poll at 38.5 percent. Cotton had been relatively unknown and had trailed Rankin, the 2010 Republican candidate for the seat, but a big boost in fundraising has allowed the 35-year-old Yell County native to put up television advertising across the expansive district, including in the Shreveport, Lousiana market that services several southern Arkansas counties.

Cotton has earned the endorsement of Arizona senator John McCain, while Rankin maintains the support of her former boss and McCain's 2008 presidential primary foe, Mike Huckabee.

The May 22 primary election will go to a runoff if no candidate reaches more than 50 percent share of the vote.

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