Arkansas Attorney General election, 2014

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Arkansas Attorney General Election

Primary Date:
May 20, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

Race rating: Toss-up

November 4 Election Winner:
Leslie Rutledge Republican Party
Incumbent prior to election:
Dustin McDaniel Democratic Party

Arkansas State Executive Elections
Top Ballot
GovernorLieutenant Governor
Secretary of StateAttorney General
Down Ballot
Treasurer, Auditor

744px-Flag of Arkansas.svg.png
The Arkansas Attorney General election took place on November 4, 2014. Incumbent Dustin McDaniel (D) was term-limited and unable to seek re-election.

The attorney general's race generated a competitive Republican primary and a three-way race to the general election. Leslie Rutledge emerged from the Republican field to win the party's nomination. Rutledge went on to defeat Democrat Nate Steel and Libertarian Aaron Cash. Learn more about the primary election and issues in the general election in the race background section.

This office was held by McDaniel, a Democrat, for two terms. Rutledge's 2014 win turned the office over to Republican control. Learn more about recent elections for the office by jumping to the past elections section.

The primary election was held on May 20, 2014, followed by a primary runoff election on June 10, 2014.

Arkansas is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[1][2][3]


General election

Republican Party Leslie Rutledge[4] Green check mark transparent.png
Democratic Party Nate Steel[5]
Libertarian Party Aaron Cash[6]

Did not file for office

Democratic Party Dustin McDaniel - Incumbent

Lost in the runoff

Republican Party David Sterling[7]

Lost in the primary

Republican Party Patricia Nation[8][9]


General election

Attorney General of Arkansas, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngLeslie Rutledge 51.6% 430,799
     Democratic Nate Steel 43.2% 360,680
     Libertarian Aaron Cash 5.2% 43,245
Total Votes 834,724
Election Results via Arkansas Secretary of State.


Arkansas Attorney General, Republican Primary Runoff, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngLeslie Rutledge 58.9% 43,898
David Sterling 41.1% 30,643
Total Votes 74,541
Election Results via Arkansas Secretary of State.

Primary election

Republican primary

Arkansas Attorney General, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngLeslie Rutledge 47.2% 79,347
Green check mark transparent.pngDavid Sterling 39.1% 65,733
Patricia Nation 13.7% 22,986
Total Votes 168,066
Election Results via Arkansas Secretary of State.

Democratic primary

  • Uncontested

Race background

In December 2013, the attorney general race was given its second consecutive "toss-up" rating by Governing. In March 2013, the open seat - held by term-limited Democrat Dustin McDaniel - was first rated as vulnerable to partisan switch in the 2014 elections based on predictions that McDaniel's personal issues would cause a substantial number of voters to reevaluate their usual selection methods as well as the merits of electing a Republican attorney general next time around. Shortly before the March rating came out, McDaniel was exposed for philandering for the second time in his attorney general tenure. The scandal forced him to end a long-anticipated campaign for the governor's office, which was open in 2014 due to incumbent Gov. Mike Beebe hitting term limits.[10]

Ballot access for political parties
See also: Requirements to establish a political party in Arkansas

In Arkansas, the process to establish a political party is tied to the votes cast in a presidential or gubernatorial election. In order to initially put candidates on the ballot, political parties must submit a petition with 10,000 signatures. Then, in order to maintain that status beyond the election year in which they submit such a petition, their candidate for governor or president must receive at least three percent of the votes cast for that office.[11][12]

In 2012, both the Libertarian and Green Parties of Arkansas qualified to put candidates on the ballot, but then their candidates did not receive enough votes for the parties to maintain their ballot status. In the fall of 2013, both parties submitted new petitions and were qualified to put candidates on the 2014 ballot.[13][14][15] In order to maintain their status as political parties without needing to petition for the 2016 elections, their candidates for governor needed to receive at least 3 percent of the vote. Frank Gilbert (L) received 1.9 percent of the gubernatorial vote and Josh Drake (G) earned 1.1 percent of the vote.[16]

Primary election

Five candidates - three Republican, one Democratic and one Libertarian - filed for the election to replace McDaniel. A primary was held on May 20 to decide which of the three Republican hopefuls would move on to the general election with the party's nomination. It was a close contest between the race's two Little Rock lawyers, Leslie Rutledge and David Sterling, neither of whom received a sufficient share of the vote to avoid a primary runoff election on June 10.

Rutledge and Sterling both ran on their legal resumes and past efforts to support conservative causes. Rutledge claimed she was the more qualified candidate because she was “the only one with experience fighting crime, the only one with experience fighting the overreaching federal government.” Sterling, meanwhile, claimed his federal court experience made him the superior candidate, touting his ample courtroom experience. “The AG’s office is essentially Arkansas’ largest law firm, and I think that the voters want a serious and responsible and experienced attorney leading that law firm,” Sterling said.[17]

Rutledge ultimately defeated Sterling in the Republican primary runoff, earning over 58 percent of the vote.[18] She faced unopposed Democratic nominee Nate Steel and Libertarian Aaron Cash in the general election on November 4.

Questions over Rutledge's voter registration

Leslie Rutledge experienced several challenges to her general election campaign after the primary. In late September, Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane (D) revoked Rutledge's voter registration because she was also registered in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Rutledge lambasted Crane's decision as a political maneuver and noted in an interview with the Arkansas News Bureau that "there are consequences related to gender when it comes to women in politics, particularly, we know, when they run for traditionally quote-unquote masculine offices, and the attorney general's office is one of those."[19]

The canceled voter registration joined other accusations made against Rutledge's campaign since the June runoff. Documents from the Arkansas Department of Human Services were published, which revealed Rutledge was placed on a "do not rehire" list because of gross misconduct in 2007. She was also accused of illegal coordination with a super PAC related to her involvement in a Republican Attorneys General Association ad, though the state's ethics commission dismissed this accusation in February 2015.[19][20]


Attorney General of Arkansas
Poll Leslie Rutledge (R) Nate Steel (D)Aaron Cash (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Polling
August 1-3, 2014
Public Policy Polling
September 18-21, 2014
AVERAGES 39.5% 33.5% 8.5% 18.5% +/-2.8 1,259.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Past elections


Attorney General of Arkansas, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDustin McDaniel Incumbent 72.8% 525,940
     Green Rebekah Kennedy 26.8% 193,658
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.4% 3,216
Total Votes 722,814


Attorney General of Arkansas, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngDustin McDaniel 58.5% 443,476
     Republican Gunner DeLay 37.1% 281,598
     Green Rebekah Kennedy 4.4% 33,386
Total Votes 758,460

Campaign finance

Comprehensive donor information for this election has been collected by Follow the Money. Based on available campaign finance records, the candidates raised a raised a total of $2,147,533 during the election. This information was last updated on May 11, 2015.[21]

Campaign Contribution Totals
Candidate Office Result Contributions
Nate Steel Democratic Party Arkansas Attorney General Defeated $1,123,093
Leslie Rutledge Republican Party Arkansas Attorney General Won $790,751
David Sterling Republican Party Arkansas Attorney General Defeated $210,493
Patricia Nation Republican Party Arkansas Attorney General Defeated $22,980
Aaron Cash Libertarian Party Arkansas Attorney General Defeated $216
Grand Total Raised $2,147,533

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
March 3, 2014 Candidate filing deadline
May 20, 2014 Primary election
June 10, 2014 Primary runoff election
November 4, 2014 General election
November 19, 2014 Deadline for the county board of election commissioners to certify election results
January 13, 2015 Inauguration day for state executive officials in general election

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Arkansas + Attorney + General + Election + 2014"

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Arknasas Attorney General election, 2014 News Feed

  • Loading...

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  2. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  3. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  4. Leslie Rutledge, "Campaign website," accessed August 12, 2013
  5. Nate Steel Attorney General, "Campaign website," accessed August 12, 2013
  6. Arkansas Secretary of State, "2014 Preferential Primary Elections & Non Partisan General Election, Aaron Scott Cash," accessed March 3, 2014
  7. David Sterling Attorney General, "Campaign website," accessed August 12, 2013
  8. Lexington Herald-Leader, "Attorney announces for Arkansas attorney general," January 30, 2014
  9., "Tolbert: Nation Set To Announce For Attorney General," January 30, 2014
  10. Governing, "The 2013-2014 Attorneys General Races: Who's Vulnerable?," March 25, 2013
  11. Arkansas Code, "Title 7, Section 1-101-21," accessed December 3, 2013
  12. Arkansas House Bill 2036, "An Act To Amend the Law Concerning Certain Procedural Dates In Election; To Amend the Law Concerning Certain Petitions; And For Other Purposes," Approved April 18, 2013 (timed out)
  13. Libertarian Party of Arkansas Website, "History of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas," accessed December 5, 2013
  14. Green Party of Arkansas Website, "Ballot Access," accessed December 5, 2013
  15. Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin, "New Political Party Petition--Green Party," November 6, 2013
  16. UALR Public Radio, "Poll: Ross, Hutchinson In Virtual Dead Heat In Governor’s Race," April 6, 2014
  17. Arkansas News, "GOP attorney general hopefuls to face off in Tuesday’s runoff election," June 7, 2014
  18., "Rutledge wins GOP nomination for attorney general," June 10, 2014
  19. 19.0 19.1 Times Record, "Election 2014: Arkansas AG Candidate Claims Gender Bias," October 5, 2014
  20. Times Record, "Ethics Complaint Against Arkansas Attorney General Dismissed," January 24, 2015
  21. Follow the Money, "Overview of Arkansas 2014 elections," accessed May 11, 2015