Dustin McDaniel Affair Admission A Setback for Democrats for 2014

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat and the only announced candidate for governor in 2014, admitted Tuesday that he had an inappropriate relationship with a Hot Springs attorney after court documents were filed alleging they had a sexual affair.

McDaniel, who has been married since June 2009, said he had a relationship with Andrea L. Davis, but would not offer details.

"With respect to Ms. Davis, I met her during the 2010 campaign. I had limited interaction with her in 2011, some of which I regret to say was inappropriate," McDaniel said in a statement. A spokeswoman for McDaniel declined to answer any further questions about the nature of the relationship.

McDaniel's name surfaced in a custody dispute between Davis and her ex-husband in Garland County. McDaniel's admission was first reported by the Talk Business website Tuesday. Davis did not immediately return a call Tuesday morning.

In an October filing, Davis' ex-husband, Frederick N. Day III, asked Davis to admit that she had sexual relations with McDaniel in 2011 or 2012. Davis objected to the question in a Dec. 3 filing and accused Day of asking the question "solely to harass and annoy."

McDaniel announced in June that he would run for governor in 2014, and has already raised more than $1 million for his bid. Tricia Wallace, a spokeswoman for McDaniel, said he did not plan to drop out of the race due to Tuesday's admission.

McDaniel was first elected attorney general in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010 without any major party opposition.

McDaniel said he has talked with his wife, Bobbi, about the relationship.

"My wife Bobbi and I love each other very much," McDaniel said. "I have been candid with her about this matter, and with much prayer, we have moved on with our life together. I hope the people of Arkansas will also accept my apology and know how honored I am to work for them every day."

The admission is a major setback for Democrats, who had hoped to rebound from an election this year where Republicans won control of the state Legislature for the first time in 138 years. The state GOP had targeted the governor's race and Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor's re-election bid as their top prizes in two years.

Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is term-limited and cannot run for re-election in 2014.

Republicans stopped short of criticizing McDaniel, but indicated they viewed it as an issue in the governor's race.

"This is just another factor the voters of Arkansas will have to consider as they look to choose their next governor," state GOP spokeswoman Katherine Vasilos said.

Potential rivals also held off on criticizing McDaniel directly over the relationship.

"That's something he'll deal with with his family. I don't really have a response," said Republican state Sen. Johnny Key, who is considering a run for governor in two years.

McDaniel's campaign last week claimed its internal polling shows the attorney general could defeat former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter or highway commissioner John Burkhalter for the Democratic nomination in 2014, and that a general election race against Republican Asa Hutchinson would be closer.

Halter was on vacation and unavailable for comment, a spokesman said. Burkhalter declined to comment on McDaniel's admission.

Hutchinson, a former congressman, is expected to announce in January whether he'll run.

"Susan and I wish only the best for Bobbi and Dustin and their family," Hutchinson wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Hutchinson, a former congressman, is expected to announce in January whether he'll run for governor.

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