U.S. Senate hopeful Conner Eldridge may not be running against Sen. Tom Cotton this fall, but the Democratic challenger and former U.S. prosecutor takes issue with Cotton’s recent comments on sentencing reform.
Appearing on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, Eldridge said Cotton’s statement that America did not put enough people in prison was off-base.
“Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19% of property crimes and 47% of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem,” Cotton said in a high-profile speech last week.
Eldridge responded, “I wouldn’t take the approach that Sen. Cotton took. We have to start by recognizing that we incarcerate way too many people in this country. So I disagree with his statement. I think this is an issue that he’s encouraged a false choice on, and I reject that false choice.”
“We should go hard after the violent criminals in our communities and I’ve done that hard work. I’m proud of law enforcement and the work that they’ve done,” Eldridge added. “.. I think we need to recognize that non-violent, first-time drug offenders ought to be treated differently and there’s bipartisan consensus for that. So I would take a different approach. I would work to accomplish both of those things: improvements to re-entry – to programs for kids like the one I started in western Arkansas – [and] being tough on violent criminals. We can do both of those things at the same time and actually work to get legislation done…”
Eldridge also explained his recent efforts to tie his challenger, incumbent GOP Sen. John Boozman, to Republican Presidential presumptive nominee Donald Trump. The Democratic challenger has released two online videos that include a number of questionable Trump comments and ask why Boozman has not refuted the GOP candidate he says he will support. Eldridge says the videos are fair.
“Sen. Boozman is in charge of what he says. And this ad is ultimately about what Sen. Boozman has said or not said about Donald Trump. This race is about leadership and I’ve stepped up and called out some hateful, offensive rhetoric that other Republicans – Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, John McCain – have all called out. Sen. Boozman has been silent,” said Eldridge.
He also reiterated his challenge for Boozman to debate him in five town hall style forums. Boozman has said he only plans to debate Eldridge once in the fall on AETN.
Watch the full interview below.