LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — U.S. Sen. John Boozman began airing his first television ads of his general election campaign on Tuesday, a sharp contrast to an Arkansas Senate race two years ago that had saturated the airwaves.
The first-term Republican senator’s campaign said it was spending more than $300,000 to air the 30-second spot statewide. The ad doesn’t mention Boozman’s Democratic rival, former federal prosecutor Conner Eldridge, and instead focuses on Boozman’s record in the Senate.
“Here in Arkansas, we know one thing for certain. We can always count on John Boozman,” the narrator says in the ad. “He’s traveled all across our state getting to know us, and listening to our problems.”
The ad appeared in part aimed at countering Eldridge’s repeated criticism that Boozman has spent too much time since taking office on trips out of the country and not enough time in Arkansas. Boozman’s campaign on Tuesday said the Republican lawmaker has made 726 unique visits to all 75 counties in Arkansas since taking office in January 2011.
Boozman ran two television ads during his successful primary bid earlier this year against North Little Rock businessman Curtis Coleman. Eldridge hasn’t run any television ads but has released web videos including ones criticizing the Republican lawmaker for supporting GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Eldridge said Boozman’s ad was an attempt to distract voters from what he called a lackluster record in Washington.
“It’s not enough to just tag along. Arkansans want leaders, not followers,” Eldridge said in a statement released by his campaign. “I will be fully engaged on day one to get real results for Arkansas.”
Eldridge has also criticized Boozman for only agreeing to one televised debate in their matchup. The former prosecutor this week said he’ll debate Libertarian candidate Frank Gilbert in Fayetteville on Friday and urged Boozman to also participate.
The lack of TV spots in the Senate race is a far cry from two years ago, when Republican Tom Cotton successfully ousted then-Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat who was seeking a third term. The two rivals and outside groups spent more than $68 million on that race.
Republicans control all statewide and federal offices in Arkansas, and hold a majority in both chambers of the state Legislature.
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