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National group targets Arkansas attorney general in election

by John Moritz | August 11, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.
In front of a backdrop that included 401 pill bottles affixed to a wooden map of Arkansas, state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge discusses her lawsuit against three drug manufacturers that she says have contributed to an opioid crisis in the state.

A national group of Democratic state attorneys general said this week that it’s investing resources in Arkansas against Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who is the head of a rival Republican group.

Democratic Attorneys General Association Executive Director Sean Rankin said in a phone call with a reporter this week that he’s already traveled to Arkansas to meet with Rutledge’s opponent, Democrat Mike Lee.

Rutledge, who was elected in 2014, has chaired of the Republican Attorneys General Association since 2017.

Rankin declined to say how much the national group plans to spend in Arkansas. However, the association has already become involved by partly funding a lawsuit Friday in conjunction with the state Democratic Party that seeks access to redacted documents within Rutledge’s personnel file from when she worked as an attorney for the Department of Human Services.

“She’s got a lot of significant holes, starting with her personnel file,” Rankin said.

Rankin also pointed to Rutledge’s share of the vote in 2014, which was the lowest of any Republican running for statewide office in Arkansas. He said polls continue to show Rutledge has lower name recognition and support than other Republicans in the state.

Lizzie Ulmer, a spokeswoman for the Democratic association, said the group has already reached out to 100,000 voters in Arkansas through a peer-to-peer messaging program.

Zack Roday, a spokesman for the Republican Attorneys General Association, said the group was “100 percent” behind Rutledge, and that Democrats’ efforts in heavily Republican Arkansas would be futile.

“If Arkansas is on their list of target states, we welcome that strategy,” Roday said.

Attorneys general offices nationally are split somewhat evenly along party lines. The GOP currently holds 26 offices, and Democrats have 22. Elections for attorneys general will be held in 32 states this November.


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