The Democratic nominee for Arkansas attorney general Nate Steel took steps to distinguish himself from his Republican opponent Tuesday at the Political Animals Club in Little Rock. Steel said unlike his closest competitor Leslie Rutledge he will not focus on lawsuits against the EPA and federal government but instead on issues related to crime.
“The focus on the attorney general’s office ought to be on improving criminal justice policy and making the public safer whether that’s children, seniors or consumers,” said Steel to applause. “So I think the staff will know early on that my focus will not be on Washington D.C.”
Steel, a state representative from the southwest Arkansas town of Nashville, cited high prescription drug abuse rates, methamphetamine use, and parole problems as reasons for his focus on expanding drug courts and alternative sentencing.
He further tried to differentiation himself from Rutledge by promising to propose a legislative package to the part-time legislature. Rutledge has said she would not craft a legislative agenda.
“If we don’t have somebody ready on day one to go the legislature next session between January and March and propose ideas that stop the bleeding in our parole process and stop paroling out people we don’t need to be paroling out; if we don’t have somebody that’s ready to go there and expand these alternative sentencing regimes; if we don’t have somebody that’s ready to fix this cyber crimes unit we will be going at least another two or three years before we start to resolve this problem. Before you know it we’ll be building another $100 million prison,” said Steel.
Libertarian Aaron Cash is also in the race.
Republican Leslie Rutledge sent along her response to Steel's remarks:
All issues that affect Arkansans are important. There are simply Arkansas issues. My focus is on the state of Arkansas. If the federal government takes an action that negatively affects Arkansas and oversteps its legal boundaries in the process, then I will push back as the Attorney of the State of Arkansas.
My primary concern always has and always will be defending the state of Arkansas and its citizens, whether the threat is a criminal, bad business, or an overreaching federal government. Arkansas businesses and families are being stifled and hurt by unnecessary federal regulations and my opponent's criticism of my willingness to push back when needed against the federal government makes it clear that he will not stand up for Arkansas as Attorney General.
Libertarian Aaron Cash:
When I listen to Nate Steel and Leslie Rutledge speak, the only difference I hear is concerning how much they are going to fight the federal government, which sounds like an empty talking point. They agree on everything from the right to bear arms to continuing the failed drug war. They both adamantly support the death penalty, and neither have addressed our burgeoning immigration crisis. The simple point is, Arkansas has two Republicans in this race and one moderate Libertarian.