Arkansas Voters to Pick Republican AG Nominee
Little Rock lawyers Leslie Rutledge and David Sterling don't differ much ideologically as they seek the Republican nomination for Arkansas attorney general. Both are vowing to use the office to fight the federal government, and say they'll continue to defend the state's same-sex marriage ban, abortion restrictions and voter ID law as they're being challenged in court.
The two are instead locked in an increasingly acrimonious fight over each other's experience and conservative bona fides as they approach Tuesday's primary runoff election, the only statewide contest on the ballot.
Rutledge, 37, a former lawyer for the Republican National Committee and ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, finished first in the May 20 primary against Sterling and civil-rights attorney Patricia Nation. But she fell short of the majority needed to secure the nomination outright. Sterling, 45, is a former assistant city manager of Hope who has worked in private practice for the past 15 years.
The winner of Tuesday's election will face Democratic nominee state Rep. Nate Steel of Nashville and Libertarian nominee Aaron Cash this fall. Democratic Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is barred by term limits from seeking re-election this year.
Rutledge has enjoyed a fundraising advantage over Sterling and has the backing of top GOP figures such as Huckabee and former U.S. Rep. John Paul Hammerschmidt. But Sterling has been boosted by the assistance of outside groups. One group, Judicial Crisis Network, has been airing a television spot and sending mailers praising Sterling for proposing a "Stand Your Ground" law and chiding Rutledge for not advocating a similar measure. Stand Your Ground laws allow a citizen to use deadly force in self-defense instead of retreating.