U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge says he supports an attempt to allow medical marijuana in Arkansas, and he leveled pointed attacks against his rival, U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., during a Kiwanis Club meeting on Wednesday (Aug. 31) in Jonesboro.
The Democrat from Arkadelphia told the crowd he watched his stepmother suffer immeasurably as she fought breast cancer. She lost that battle with the deadly disease in 2010, he said. The former prosecutor did say, however, that it should be a strictly monitored program.
“If marijuana would have eased her pain … then, absolutely it should be available,” he said.
Eldridge assailed Boozman, accusing the state’s senior senator of an aloof job performance. During his tenure, the senator has only had five bills passed by the senate and those were to name post offices, Eldridge said. He said Boozman has visited 53 countries while in office, and has made a total of 129 trips abroad. Those trips include nine trips to Paris, alone, he said.
“He’s been there (Paris) more times than he has been here,” Eldridge said.
The Boozman camp has said the assertion is misleading because the senator hasn’t taken as many individual trips Eldridge alleges, and the trips often involved multiple visits to foreign countries.
Eldridge criticized Boozman for supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP trade agreement. It would have disastrous consequences for Northeast Arkansas farmers, he said. The deal would allow Vietnam to export more rice to Mexico. It’s one of the largest export markets for American rice farmers, he said.
If elected to the Senate, Eldridge said the first bill he’ll sponsor will be to attach lifetime sentences to child sexual predators. It’s legislation that both parties can stand behind, he said. He will also support legislation to help battered women, something he said Boozman doesn’t support.
Polls have shown Boozman with a commanding lead in the race, but Eldridge said he’s not worried. Voters don’t typical engage until after the Labor Day holiday, which means he has time to make his case, he said. Eldridge did lob one final verbal assault at Boozman, saying the senator won’t debate him in public. The two candidates have tentatively agreed to one debate on AETN in October.
He said he’s loaned his campaign $35,000 to this point. The candidate was non-committal about loaning himself more. Campaign costs are outrageous, and the system in place is nothing more than “legal, institutionalized corruption,” he said. Many political action committees (PACS) are pouring money into Boozman’s reelection, and he thinks it’s wrong.
Should voters chose him, Eldridge said he wants to pass legislation to fight the nation’s growing debt, but he didn’t say what programs he’d cut or what taxes he’d raise to make that happen. He also said nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court should be vetted even in a presidential election year. It’s disgraceful that Republicans in the senate are refusing to do their constitutional duties, he added.
“I think this (senate job) matters … I want to make a difference,” Eldridge said. “I’m going to work a lot harder than he’ll work.”