How American democracy is faring this presidential election is the subject of many perplexed and disillusioned observers but a few Arkansas candidates already have their eyes on whatever comes next, with campaign contributions trickling in for the 2018 cycle. High dollar contributions from Political Action Committees and individual business owners dominate the filings. A number of lower level contributions from persons employed in governmental affairs also line some reports. As could be expected virtually nothing was allocated to 2018 campaign expenditures.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, and Democratic chair of the state legislature's Joint Budget Committee had 3rd Quarter reports posted this week. State Senator Jason Rapert (R-Bigelow) filed his report last week. All are seeking re-election to their current positions and don't face any yet-announced primary or general election opposition.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge told reporters on Monday that she planned to seek re-election as a Republican in 2018 and filed her first campaign reports the same day. The primary campaign took in $71,850. The Arkansas Times previously outlined a number of contributors with Tyson Foods Chairman of the Board of Directors John Tyson, the Poultry Federation PAC, Murphy Oil family members and W.R. Stephens among the high profile and high dollar contributors. PACS and business owners made up the vast majority of contributions. The lowest reported contribution was $100 from a Little Rock attorney. Most of the contributions were over a $1,000.
Rutledge defeated Republican David Sterling in a run-off election in 2014 in a 58.9-41.1 percent split. Rutledge went on to defeat Democrat Nate Steel 51.6-43.2 percent in the general election.
The Republican Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin was rumored earlier in the year to be considering a 2018 primary bid to unseat Governor Asa Hutchinson but hasn't made any moves in that direction and is continuing to raise re-elections funds. His primary campaign raised $35,250 and spent $10,882. $29,686 was the campaign's balance at the time of the report filing on Monday.
Only a few PACS contributed to the campaign during the quarter including the Arkansas Red State Association in Quitman. Many of the contributions came from individual donors listed as business owners or physicians. All were over $250 and most were over $1,000. Griffin's expenditures went for tickets to an Arkansas Sportscaster and Sportswriters Hall of Fame event, a trip to the Republican National Convention, and advertisements with the Arkansas Tea Party Alliance and the state Police.
In a three-way GOP primary race Griffin easily dispatched State Reps. Andy Mayberry and Debra Hobbs with over 63 percent of the 2014 vote.
In his general election fund, Griffin raised $10,800 from four $2,700 individual contributions, bringing the collections up to $13,500. In 2014, Griffin defeated Democrat John Burkhalter in 57.2-38.6 percent general election contest.
One of the top ranking Democratic state legislators, Larry Teague of Nashville, raised nearly all of his $15,300 3Q primary campaign haul with the help of 21 Political Action Committees, including some with clear conservative leanings, and nine people working in governmental affairs contributing. Witt Stephens also contributed $1,000. None of the contributors had an address listed in his district. In 2014 Teague was unopposed in the primary and general election. But he still raised nearly $88,000 in 2014.
Political Action Committees contributing to Teague's unopposed primary campaign include:
Caterpillar Employees PAC, IL ($1,000), Advancing Arkansas PAC ($1,000), ARFSA PAC ($1,000), Manufactured Housing Council PAC ($500), Hospitality PAC ($200), Arkansas Agents PAC ($500), Public Info Advocacy PAC ($250), Arkansas Transportation PAC ($100), ARLTA Legislative Fund PAC ($250), AT&T Arkansas Employee PAC ($500), Bruce Hawkins PAC ($1000), Wellcare PAC ($500), The Poultry Federation PAC ($1,000), VOTE PAC ($1000), BSA PAC ($250), Arkansas Issues PAC ($500), STAR PAC ($500), ATPA PAC ($250), NUCOR Corp PAC ($1,000) Centerpoint Energy Inc PAC ($500), ENPAC Arkansas ($500).
Teague is a co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee and vice chair of the Senate Revenue and Tax Committee. He had zero expenditures for the period.
State Senator Jason Rapert only took in $500 from Florida-based Wellcare PAC but doled out over $4,000 in primary campaign related expenses to causes near and dear to the Republican from Bigelow. The campaign spent $3, 265 on sponsoring the Faulkner County Junior Livestock Association, $100 on Arkansas Cattleman Association membership, $250 on an Arkansas Family Council sponsorship, $310 for pies to benefit the religious-oriented homeless shelter Bethlehem House in Conway, and $1,000 to life choices which offers pregnancy related counseling that encourages options other than abortion.
Sen. Rapert was unopposed in the 2014 GOP primary and handily defeated Democratic challenger Tyler Pearson with 56.8 percent of the vote.