- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman launched his first negative television ad on Friday against Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge in his Arkansas re-election bid, portraying the former federal prosecutor as a gift from President Barack Obama to a predominantly conservative state.

The 30-second spot shows a box delivered to a home in Arkansas with the White House logo and the words “Contents: Conner Eldridge” emblazoned on the side. It features a narrator mimicking the president’s voice as he reads a letter attached to the box.

“Conner was my lawyer, but I’m giving him to you to be your senator,” the narrator says in the ad. “He’s a Washington elite, like me, and he comes complete with my liberal agenda.”

Boozman’s campaign did not announce how much total it spent to air the ad, but Campaign Manager Chris Caldwell said was partly paid for by a $358,000 buy it announced last week.

It’s the fourth television ad Boozman has aired in his campaign, but the first where he acknowledges Eldridge. The Democratic challenger faces an uphill challenge unseating the Republican incumbent in Arkansas, where the GOP controls all statewide and federal offices. Obama lost Arkansas in both presidential elections, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is widely expected to win the state next month.

Eldridge has been running ads statewide accusing Boozman of ducking debates with him and of having a lackluster record in the Senate, a criticism he continued Friday in response to the ad. Boozman and Eldridge debated earlier this month on public television, the only debate the GOP lawmaker agreed to in the race.

“But what do you expect from a 15-year incumbent, other than using the same tired old D.C. tricks and scare tactics to distract the voters from his lack of achievements in the Senate?” Eldridge said in a statement from his campaign. “Maybe if he had spent more time here he would know exactly what is happening here in Arkansas, where I’ve lived and worked my entire life.”

Boozman launched the ad as campaign finance reports showed him far outpacing Eldridge in fundraising. Eldridge this week reported raising more than $271,000 during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, and loaned his campaign another $60,000. Eldridge reported having more than $63,000 on hand, compared to more than $1.6 million Boozman reported in the bank. Boozman raised more than $579,000 during the quarter.


Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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