The ballot in November will include the race for Arkansas Attorney General, the state’s chief legal advisor and law enforcement officer. Responsibilities include representing and advising Arkansas in legal matters, prosecuting fraud and corruption, and protecting consumers. The position also counsels the Solicitor General, Civil Department, Criminal Department, and State Agencies Department. Until 2014, the position had only been filled by Democrats, like Bill Clinton and Mike Beebe, who each served as attorney general before his time as governor. On the ballot this midterm are Republican incumbent Leslie Rutledge, Democrat Mike Lee, and Libertarian Kerry Hicks.
Rutledge—Chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association and vocal Trump supporter—became the first woman and first Republican to serve as attorney general for Arkansas in 2014. Her key stances are her support for pro-life laws, veteran rights, protection of the Second Amendment, and defense of religious freedom. Her campaign website lists domestic violence, the opioid epidemic, internet safety, and scam phone calls as the issues she aims to tackle. She has implemented the Prescription for Life program to teach students about the dangers of drug abuse. She has created the Military and Veteran’s Initiative, Metal Theft Prevention Initiative, and Cooperative Disabilities Investigations. In past statements, she has opposed DACA and LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
Lee is an industrial engineer and attorney. He has served on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lee first filed to run for House District 31 Representative, but he withdrew, choosing to run for attorney general instead. He said that his top priorities are consumer protection issues, like fighting online scams and other cybercrimes. He also wants to combat the opioid crisis, and he’s pushing for stricter ethics laws in local government. Lee calls himself “a real watchdog” who will bring the focus back to Arkansas. He has been quiet on LGBT, immigration, and abortion issues.
During the course of his campaign, Lee has slammed his opponent for controversy found in the Department of Human Services files. In 2007, leaked emails from the DHS put Rutledge on a “do not rehire” list. There was speculation that Rutledge quit her job abruptly, but some files claim that she was fired. Such documents were given to the media before being handed over to a Pulaski County judge, but the Arkansas Democratic Party has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for Rutledge’s full personnel file.
Rutledge faced backlash again in 2007—this time for a racist email mocking social service clients. When the issue surfaced, she said that she did not write it; she “simply forwarded” the email.
Lee himself has not been immune to allegations. The Arkansas Republican Party filed a complaint against him for violating campaign finance rules. Among the allegations are failing to attach “paid for by” to yard signs and accepting food and drink from a restaurant during his campaign.
It’s uncertain how or if this controversy will affect the voting results for attorney general, but the race is expected to be contentious. Contact either candidate’s campaign to find out more information about their stances, goals, and plans.
Update: As of November 6, Leslie Rutledge has been re-elected as the Arkansas Attorney General