story by Ryan Saylor
There has been a lot of talk about the race for Arkansas governor next year. But one man who has been rumored as a potential gubernatorial candidate said Wednesday he is looking at a run for attorney general instead.
State Sen. Robert Thompson, D-Paragould, said he was considering running for the office next year after receiving encouragement from friends and supporters.
"I've had a lot of calls and encouragement over the last few weeks from friends and people I've worked with who have really encouraged me to look at this," he said.
Thompson said while he is considering a run, he has other priorities that will occupy him during the next few months.
"The big issue is we're in the middle of a legislative session and I'm focused on my duties as a legislator," he explained. "I don't expect to make a decision until well after the legislative session is over."
Thompson, who spent more than $200,000 to win a tough re-election battle against Republican Blake Johnson last year, said he was prepared to raise and spend a large amount of money to wage his first-ever statewide campaign.
"I think any candidate who runs for any statewide office, even a down-ballot race such as attorney general, will have to be prepared to raise and spend between $1.5 million and $2 million,” Thompson said.
Asked about his lack of name identification outside of northeast Arkansas, Thompson said he would make his race a campaign of issues instead of being "candidate-oriented."
Should he run and be elected, Thompson said he would focus on consumer fraud against senior citizens as one of his first priorities once in office.
Thompson, a former Greene County deputy prosecuting attorney who now practices law in his hometown of Paragould, said he would also like to personally fight more cases on behalf of the state of Arkansas versus relying on staff attorneys in the attorney general's office.
"I appear in court all the time and I would want to continue that as attorney general and assist the staff in defending the state and bringing litigation on behalf of the state," Thompson said.
Thompson, a 1997 graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law, said whatever decision he makes will be made with the help of his wife, Tori, and three children.
"My wife has always been very supportive of these types of things, but it's a huge personal sacrifice," he said. "If it's something I decide to do, my family will be with me. They've always been involved in my legislative service and I anticipate if this is something we decide to do, we'll do it together."
Thompson also took an opportunity to praise the work of Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who cannot run for a third term due to term limits and earlier this year dropped out of the race for governor after admitting to an extramarital affair.
"I think Dustin McDaniel has been an excellent attorney general," Thompson said. "I think history will show that he's done some remarkable things in his tenure already, and he still has two years left."
Thompson is the first candidate from either party to acknowledge an interest in running for attorney general.
Other individuals rumored to be exploring a run include McDaniel's Chief of Staff Blake Rutherford, a Democrat, State Rep. and Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, and University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Chancellor Chris Thomason, a Democrat and former prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' 8th Judicial District.
Officials with the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office did not immediately know the filing deadline for Constitutional offices.