LITTLE ROCK — A Republican Arkansas congressman targeted by national Democrats began airing a new television ad this week criticizing his challenger as too closely aligned with party figures such as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.
French Hill, who represents central Arkansas' 2nd Congressional District, began airing the ads less than two weeks after state Rep. Clarke Tucker won the Democratic nomination to challenge Hill this fall. Tucker was touted during the primary campaign by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as the party's best chance to reclaim the 2nd District seat.
"Clarke Tucker is a Hillary Clinton-supporting Democrat for higher taxes and bigger government," the narrator in the ad says. "No wonder Clarke Tucker is the hand-picked candidate of Nancy Pelosi's liberal Washington allies."
Hill's campaign did not indicate how much it's paying for the ad but said it would run over the next few weeks in the district, which includes Little Rock and seven central Arkansas counties.
Hill did not have an opponent for his party's nomination but had been running TV ads around the district in advance of the May 22 primary. Hill's previous ad didn't mention Tucker but invoked Pelosi, the House Democratic leader and former speaker. Tucker has said he won't support Pelosi as the House Democratic leader or speaker if he's elected to Congress.
Tucker criticized the ad as misleading, citing his opposition to Pelosi and his support for tax cut measures in the state Legislature. Tucker has said he would have voted against the tax cut package Hill and the state's other Republicans in Washington supported that was approved last year.
"I think this commercial sums up nicely the reason I decided to run," Tucker told The Associated Press. "You have a congressman using D.C.-based political tactics designed to divide and scare people, and I'm running a campaign focused on the people in central Arkansas, and the issues like health care, education, and the economy that are important to us."
Democrats have said they believe Hill is vulnerable because of his opposition to the federal health overhaul, which has expanded coverage to thousands in the state. Republicans control all of the state's federal offices and its statewide partisan offices, as well as a majority in both chambers of the Legislature. The GOP has held the 2nd District seat since 2011.