Former Jacksonville Senator to Chair State's Democrats

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) _ The new chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party is former state Senator Bill Gwatney of Jacksonville. Gwatney was elected Saturday in a meeting at Hot Springs of the party's state committee.

Gwatney, who owns and operates three car dealerships in Pulaski County, served ten years in the state Senate. Governor Beebe, who served 20 years as a state senator before being elected attorney general in 2002, announced several weeks ago that Gwatney had his support for the post. Gwatney was Beebe's finance chairman during Beebe's run for governor last year.

Gwatney replaces Jason Willett of Jonesboro, who served for two years. Willett has drawn praise from Democrats for organizing efforts in 2006.

Gwatney said he will work to ensure the party is adequately funded and has enough volunteers.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)