New editions of the State Legislative Tracker and The Policy Tracker available now!

Leslie Rutledge

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Rutledge.PNG
Attorney General of Arkansas
In office
January 13, 2015 - present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 0
PredecessorDustin McDaniel (D)
Base salary$72,408
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 4, 2014
Next generalNovember 6, 2018
Term limitsTwo terms
Bachelor'sUniversity of Arkansas at Fayetteville
J.D.University of Arkansas, Little Rock Bowen School of Law
Office website
Campaign website
Know more information about this profile?
Submit a bio
Leslie Rutledge is the current Republican Attorney General of Arkansas. She was first elected in 2014 and assumed office on January 13, 2015.[1] Rutledge succeeded Dustin McDaniel, who was ineligible to run for a third term as attorney general in 2014 because of term limits.

Before becoming attorney general, Rutledge worked as an Arkansas-based lawyer in private practice. She previously served as Attorney for the State of Arkansas' Division of Children and Family Services.[2]


Rutledge, a seventh-generation Arkansan, was raised on a cattle farm in Independence County. Her mother taught at an elementary school and her father was a lawyer, as she would later become. Rutledge attended Southside School District public schools through high school graduation and went on to receive her bachelor's degree and law degree, both from the University of Arkansas.

She launched her legal career in the Arkansas Court of Appeals, clerking for Judge Josephine Hart, and from there she was appointed Deputy Counsel to the office of former-Gov. Mike Huckabee. In this role, Rutledge counseled departments and agencies of the state government such as the banking and insurance departments, the oil and gas commission and public service commission.

Rutledge also served as a deputy prosecutor for Lonoke County before rising to the state level as Attorney for the State of Arkansas' Division of Children and Family Services.[2] She segued into private practice and now works at a firm specializing in election, administrative and state and local government law. She is admitted to practice in her home state of Arkansas, as well as Washington D.C. and before the U.S. Supreme Court.[2]


  • B.A. - University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
  • J.D. - University of Arkansas, Little Rock (UALR) Bowen School of Law

Political career

Attorney General (2015-present)

Rutledge has served in this position since January 13, 2015.



See also: Arkansas attorney general election, 2014

Rutledge ran for election to the office of Arkansas Attorney General. Rutledge sought the Republican nomination in the primary on May 20. She beat David Sterling in the primary runoff on June 10.[3] Rutledge defeated Nate Steel (D) and Aaron Cash (L) in the general election. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


Primary election
  • 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.
  • 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.
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.

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.[4]

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.[5][6]

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.[7][8][9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

Rutledge ultimately defeated Sterling in the Republican primary runoff, earning over 58 percent of the vote.[12] 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."[13]

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.[13][14]


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

Recent news

Know more information about this profile?
Submit a bio

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

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

Leslie Rutledge News Feed

  • Loading...

Contact Information


Capitol Address:
Office of the Attorney General
323 Center Street, Suite 200
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Phone: (501) 682-2007
Toll Free Phone: (800) 482-8982

See also

External links

Suggest a link


Political offices
Preceded by
Dustin McDaniel (D)
Arkansas Attorney General
Succeeded by