4th District Debate Turns to Campaign Funds

by Jeannie Nuss, The Associated Press  on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 7:47 am  

CONWAY — Democrat Gene Jeffress and two third-party candidates seeking an open U.S. House seat in south Arkansas painted Republican Tom Cotton as more concerned about financial backers than his potential constituents during a debate Thursday.

"I don't represent the people in New York or Washington," Jeffress said. "Gene Jeffress is taking only funds from my district and Gene Jeffress is going to be supporting those people as well."

The debate was taped and is slated to air at 8 p.m. Thursday on AETN. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Cotton, a political newcomer who has managed to raise more money than the state's other GOP House members, spent part of Thursday's debate emphasizing his ties to the state.

"I'm asking to go to Congress to serve you because too often we have politicians in both parties in Washington that forget what's best about America, forget those lessons that I learned growing up on my family farm in Yell County ..." said Cotton, an Army veteran and former management consultant.

Cotton campaign spokesman Doug Coutts said some of Jeffress' money comes from outside Arkansas.

Cotton and Jeffress, a state senator and former schoolteacher, are vying to replace Democratic Rep. Mike Ross in Arkansas' 4th District, which stretches through most of south Arkansas and into the Republican-friendly northwest part of the state.

Ross announced last year that he would not seek re-election to the district he's represented since 2000, raising GOP hopes for a sweep of the state's four congressional districts.

The race also includes two third-party candidates: Green Party nominee Joshua Drake and Libertarian Bobby Tullis.

Drake, a Hot Springs lawyer, said that just because third-party candidates don't have the money to air commercials, it doesn't mean their voices shouldn't be heard.

"It bothers me that Tom Cotton can produce slick television commercials that show him as Arkansas' native son," Drake told reporters after the debate. "Tom Cotton left Arkansas the minute he graduated from high school and didn't look back until he was sent back to run for Congress."

Tullis, a former state representative, portrayed Cotton as a man who would use the 4th District seat as a stepping stone to the Senate or loftier offices.

 

 

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