Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge spoke to the Northeast Arkansas Political Animals club Friday (May 6) about his campaign against U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Libertarian candidate Frank Gilbert; and the 2016 campaign in general.
Eldridge, who grew up in Augusta, said the decision to run for the Senate seat is not a “party endeavor, but about doing what is right.” He said he has ties all over the state, including working in Northwest Arkansas as a United States Attorney and in Arkadelphia in banking.
“I believe a United States Senator should be strong, tough and be willing to work with everyone,” Eldridge said.
He said people are “sick and tired of politicians and politics” in today’s political climate, with people wanting problem solvers to serve. As an example, Eldridge credited Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the state legislature for working to pass Arkansas Works. Eldridge said Boozman has not worked on behalf of Arkansans.
“My opponent is a nice man, but he does not stand up,” Eldridge said.
The comment from Eldridge brought a response from the Boozman campaign late Friday.
“To say that Senator Boozman does not ‘stand up’ is laughable. Senator Boozman has consistently stood up to our opponent’s former boss, President Obama, and his unrelenting efforts to destroy the values and rights of Arkansans,” noted a statement released by the Boozman campaign. “The Senator fights for our 2nd Amendment rights, defends the rights of the unborn and our most vulnerable in society, and stands up for our veterans. Senator Boozman is a strong voice for Arkansas and stands for a wealth of issues – Arkansans trust John Boozman.”
By contrast, Eldridge said Boozman would get rid of the Arkansas Works program, while he would keep it in place.
Eldridge said his first bill, if elected in the fall, would be to put life sentences on the table for people convicted of federal crimes involving the abuse of children. On financial issues, Eldridge said the federal debt and deficit issue “screams out” for attention.
“It is time to turn the page and allow someone else to do the job,” Eldridge said, criticizing Boozman’s time as a United States Representative and Senator.
On trade, Eldridge said he opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and a nuclear deal with Iran but supports trade with Cuba. Eldridge was also questioned about a recent YouTube video posted this week that shows Boozman’s endorsement of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. The video highlights controversial and sexist comments made by Trump through the years and this campaign season, ending with Boozman saying he will vote for Trump.
“He said he supported Trump and then remained silent,” Eldridge said.
The Boozman camp said, “This is the act of a desperate campaign that has consistently struggled to gain financial support. Our opponent should be more focused on his very real ties to his former boss, President Barack Obama, and his failed policies.”
Eldridge was also asked by Craighead County GOP chairman Billie Sue Hoggard about his support of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“He will not be the nominee. That is pretty much settled. I voted for her in the primary, so that about settles that,” Eldridge said, noting questions involving a FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a personal computer server in storing emails from her time as Secretary of State are far from settled.