LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge launched the first television ads Friday of his uphill fight to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman in Arkansas, with a pair of spots that accuse the incumbent lawmaker of ducking debates and having a lackluster record in Washington.
Eldridge’s campaign didn’t say how much it spent on the ads, which are airing in the Little Rock and northwest Arkansas areas. Documents filed by television stations with the Federal Communications Commission show Eldridge’s campaign spent at least $33,000 to air the ads from Friday through early October.
The 30-second spots feature Eldridge driving in a red pickup truck he’s used for campaign events with podiums in the back, criticizing Boozman for not agreeing to more debates. Eldridge also criticizes Boozman, a former U.S. representative who was elected to the Senate in 2010, over the number of overseas trips he’s taken while in office.
“I approve this message because 14 years of mailing it in is long enough,” Eldridge said in one of the spots.
The buy includes running the spot in the Little Rock area on ESPN during Saturday night’s football game between Arkansas and Texas A&M. The ad buy is modest compared to more than $300,000 worth of ads Boozman’s campaign launched last week, the first of his general election campaign. Boozman ran two ads during his successful primary bid earlier this year.
Boozman’s campaign accused Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor, dismissed the ads as a sign of desperation on Eldridge’s part.
“While our opponent spent five years serving President Obama and the last year running a negative campaign, John Boozman has been fighting for Arkansas: farmers, veterans and children of this state,” Chris Caldwell, Boozman’s campaign manager, said in an email.
Eldridge has trailed Boozman in fundraising in Arkansas, where Republicans hold all statewide and federal offices, and the race has attracted little national attention or money. 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.
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