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OPINION: AG Rutledge's bolt from governor's race 'cowardly, weak'

by Maylon Rice | November 17, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

The news out of Little Rock this week really didn't surprise me.

I've never, truly never, liked Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

She had a poor work record as a state employee, a tepid record as an attorney general and an even poorer mark as a political candidate.

She announced this week, she is dropping out of the governor's race in Arkansas – well, the GOP primary for Arkansas governor.

And she will enter the already crowded field for "Governor Light" – or lieutenant governor as it is formally known.

Leslie, oh Leslie, oh Leslie, as many of us muttered under our breath, at her latest mis-step in Arkansas politics.

She has certainly been a disappointment as the first woman elected Arkansas' attorney general.

And the disappointments keep on coming.

Mired down by wanting to intervene in every single lawsuit from any other GOP attorney general, governor, lieutenant governor, or elected GOP dogcatcher in any red state in the Union, Ms. Rutledge has expended her political capital in front of the TV cameras, eerily squelching in her annoying tone of voice about joining any federal lawsuit with a conservative attempt to set aside laws, rules or ordinances against her (or others) political thinking.

She got embarrassed in a lawsuit of using recovered funds from other lawsuits she filed on behalf of Arkansans to promote herself – by name – and ad nauseam on the airwaves of Arkansas's electronic media.

Back to her recent backing out of the 2022 GOP primary for governor.

I have to wonder, but not for too long, where is Leslie Rutledge, the person. Did she not see, as many of us did on both sides of the political aisle in Arkansas, that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a driving force to be faced in the future?

But still AG Leslie Rutledge, like so many other previous attorneys general in Arkansas, entered the governor's race, as a likely stepping stone in Arkansas political history.

And as always, Rutledge was all spitfire and enthusiastic about running for the governor's seat.

She quickly dismissed some calls for her to step up to the lieutenant governor's spot with such terms as "a meaningless office" and "part time" status.

In all instances, the office of lieutenant governor in Arkansas is a part-time gig unless the Legislative sessions are going on. There is a little more for the lieutenant governor to do, by supervising the state Senate.

Being the state's attorney general, she manages some nearly 200 attorneys, staff and others.

The office staff of the lieutenant governor's office is six or seven individuals.

Already in the race for lieutenant governor are: former GOP state leader Doyle Webb (and husband of state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Webb); Dr. Greg Bledsoe, the state surgeon general and son of state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe; Washington County Judge Joseph Wood, a political unknown outside of a few states' party positions; and ultra conservative state Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway.

Adding Rutledge to this mix, even with a lion's share of her $1.1 million political war chest from her brief gubernatorial try, isn't a proven winner.

She may have more available cash than the other four combined, but a good candidate could beat her – even for lieutenant governor.

That is a political calculation she didn't make before bowing out of a spirited race against Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Leslie Rutledge was always the dark horse candidate, even against Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but she was showing some fight.

Until she didn't fight anymore.

Rutledge also quickly picked up the "leftist" script of mysterious forces out to change Arkansas straight from Sanders' political playbook, when bolting from the governor's race.

But that is another bad political miscalculation by Rutledge.

You never, never, ever co-op another candidate's political script – even in another race.

Rutledge, you see, has never had a single idea, political or not, of her own, and now that's showing for us all to see.

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