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David Sterling

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David Sterling
David Sterling.png
Attorney General of Arkansas
Former Candidate
PartyRepublican
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David Sterling was a Republican candidate for Attorney General of Arkansas in the 2014 elections.[1]

Elections

2014

See also: Arkansas attorney general election, 2014

Sterling ran for election as Attorney General of Arkansas in 2014. Sterling sought the Republican nomination in the primary on May 20, 2014. He lost to Leslie Rutledge in the primary runoff on June 10, 2014.[2] The general election took place November 4, 2014.

  • Republican primary runoff
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.
  • 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.

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.[3]

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.[4][5]

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.[6][7][8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

Rutledge ultimately defeated Sterling in the Republican primary runoff, earning over 58 percent of the vote.[11] 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."[12]

The cancelled 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.[12][13]

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