Friday, March 18, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Hometown boy runs for Senate

After a long day on the campaign trail, Conner Eldridge, who’s running against Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas), dropped by the paper Tuesday night to visit with the newsroom staff and meet with the nightshift workers as they prepared the paper for printing and delivery. The mailroom and pressmen aren’t used to having Senate candidates drop by, but Eldridge was in his element, shaking hands and making conversation like a local.

Eldridge is a Lonoke native and a former U.S. attorney in his thirties who comes from a prosperous family here. His grandfather, John Tull Jr., who died in 2014, served on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Clinton Administration.

Eldridge says he’s running because gridlock and dysfunction in Washington must stop. He said he’ll work to create jobs, improve schools and public safety and work to strengthen the middle class and seniors.

It’s refreshing to see someone under 50 running for Congress. He and his wife have three young sons in school.

Boozman, his opponent, defeated Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2010 when Republicans took control of the Senate in an anti-Obama tidal wave. Lincoln was chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Arkansas farmers soon saw cuts to crop subsidies after she left Washington.

Eldridge, who is running as a Democrat, is a long shot in a state that’s still suspicious of President Obama, but with Hillary Clinton on the presidential ballot, nostalgic Democrats may come to the ballot boxes in droves to support her and Eldridge.

Donald Trump, a foul-mouthed, politically inexperienced money-centric liar with no policy positions who was a longtime Clinton supporter until last year, may give Republican voters in Arkansas a reason to sit out this election. That could hurt Boozman. We’ll see.