The seat had opened when the Democrat Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, reelected in 2012 and a former Senate President, resigned in the summer of 2013 under an ethics cloud. With a turnout of approximately 17 percent in the special election, Cooper defeated the Democratic nominee, Steven Eric Rockwell (born 1954), 4,314 (572 percent) to 3,227 (428 percent). Rockwell manages his family printing and publishing business in Jonesboro and called himself a "centrist" in the race.Retiring Democratic Governor Mike Beebe cut ads for the Rockwell campaign.
Cooper first defeated two fellow Republicans, Chad Niell and Dan Sullivan, to gain his party endorsement.
Cooper also carried the support of the Tea Party movement. Until Bookout"s resignation, Cooper had intended to run in 2014 for the District 59 seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
He lost a race in 2012 for that same House seat against the Democrat Butch Wilkins, who was term-limited in 2014. In the campaign, Cooper said that he considers ethics reform and wasteful government spending among his legislative priorities.