Former U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge, a Democrat, announced Wednesday (Sept. 9) that he will challenge incumbent U.S. Senator John Boozman, R-Arkansas, in 2016.
In a press release put out Wednesday morning, Eldridge said, “Washington is broken. I’m running for the Senate because I’m committed to doing everything I can to fix it for Arkansas and for our country.”
“Arkansans are dealing with real problems involving our jobs, our safety, our schools, and the strength of our communities. People in Washington aren’t bringing solutions to these problems and aren’t getting things done. Arkansas needs leaders who will stand up to anyone in Washington, from either political party, and do what’s right for Arkansas and for our country.”
Eldridge, who resigned his seat as U.S. Prosecuting Attorney for Arkansas’ Western District last month, has been rumored to be eyeing a Senate run for weeks. He was appointed to his federal post by President Barack Obama, and nominated by former U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.
Eldridge, 38, said he would “work with anyone interested in bipartisan, common-sense efforts to deal with the challenges we face,” adding that his work as a federal prosecutor worked across party lines.
“The work of a prosecutor in fighting crime isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. We need to take the same approach to creating a strong Arkansas economy, cutting government spending, waste and needless regulation, and making sure that everyone in Arkansas has an opportunity to succeed,” he said.
“It was an incredible honor to serve as U.S. Attorney and I’ll be forever grateful to the dedicated people in that office and in law enforcement throughout Arkansas,” Eldridge said. “Today, I’m starting the next chapter in my working life, and I couldn’t be happier that this decision will allow me to continue to serve the state I love and all of us who are fortunate to call Arkansas home.”
Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb responded to Eldridge’s announcement with the following statement: “Arkansans made it clear over the past three election cycles that the destructive, liberal policies of Barack Obama are not welcome here. Conner Eldridge has likened himself to Obama, which is not surprising given Obama’s appointing him US Attorney."
Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Eldridge worked with businesses across southwestern, central, and other parts of Arkansas while serving in several roles with Summit Bank and Summit Bancorp Inc. in Arkadelphia. Eldridge held the positions of vice president and assistant general counsel, president of the Arkadelphia region, and CEO during his time at Summit Bank.
Eldridge said that since leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office, he has visited with hundreds of Arkansans and received broad encouragement to run.
“I would only run this race if I thought I could win,” he said. “I believe I can make a real difference for Arkansas in the U.S. Senate.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Davidson College and gained his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas. Following law school, he served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele of the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2003-2004.
Eldridge previously worked for U.S. Rep. Marion Berry and U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln during 1998 and from 1999-2000.
Eldridge and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, moved from Arkadelphia to Fort Smith and, later, to Fayetteville after he became U.S. Attorney. They have three young boys: Will, 8; Henry, 4; and Tull, 3.