Republican AG Candidates Spar Leading Up To Runoff

Little Rock --  Both Leslie Rutledge and David Sterling say they would like to see a more positive campaign as each traded verbal allegations on Monday.

Sterling, a Maumelle attorney, pointed to Rutledge voting in Democratic primaries as a sign she is not "100% Republican."

“It’s disturbing that a candidate who seeks the Republican nomination for Attorney General has a record of voting for Democrats and contributing to the Democrat Party,” Sterling says.

Rutledge acknowledged Monday she has voted in Democratic primaries in the past.

"Particularly in Independence County, there were no Republicans on the ballot unfortunately, so I would always vote for the most conservative candidate," Rutledge says. "I am the only candidate who has actually given their own money to support a fellow Republican."

In the last week, the race has featured advertisements from the Judicial Crisis Network in support of Sterling calling Rutledge "arrogant" and supportive of Democrats including House leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA.

"I wouldn't characterize her necessarily as arrogant," Sterling said Monday.

Rutledge fired back, citing Sterling's legal representation of a Little Rock based adult business in a 2009 contract dispute as tantamount endorsement of the online porn industry.

"He was being paid by the pornography industry," Rutledge says.

A characterization Sterling vehemently denied.

"Cupid's is not a porn store, it's a lingerie store," Sterling retorted. "And I'm not allowed to talk about details of the case because of attorney client privilege and she knows that."

GOP political strategist says the back and forth is consistent with a runoff where turnout is forecast to be approximately five-percent statewide.

"While there may be a bunch of wild allegations flying around on whichever side you choose to believe, at the end of the day, the candidate with the better ground game," Vickery says. "That's really what matters in a runoff."

Early voting in the runoff begins Tuesday. The runoff election is June 10.

"I wish it wasn't a negative tone, I've tried to keep it positive," Sterling says. "Ms. Rutledge took it off into a ditch."

"I would love to be talking about consumer protection, keeping criminals behind bars and fighting an overreaching government," Rutledge says. "Often times, this is why people don't like what they see as politics, but voters do need to see who people are."

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