Sep 28, 2021 - Politics

Arkansas AG's ad spending surpasses 2021 levels

A headshot of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Leslie Rutledge. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas attorney general's office

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office has spent $1.3 million on TV and radio advertising since the fiscal year began July 1.

  • The amount is already greater than what her office spent all of fiscal 2021.
  • The ads include public service announcements (PSAs) about the COVID-19 vaccine. These feature her face and voice. Other PSAs cover everything from price gouging to child abuse and opioid abuse. Those ads do not include her likeness.

Flashback: Rutledge is running for governor. Last year, she was criticized for using PSAs that featured herself, with some saying she leverages the office to bolster her statewide reputation.

  • After announcing her bid for governor on July 1, 2020, her face and voice were dropped from all PSAs.

Until mid-August, when a new PSA started running that features her and members of her staff — and encourages Arkansans to get vaccinated.

Source: Arkansas attorney general. Chart: Axios Visuals
Source: Arkansas attorney general. Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: Rutledge is building a visible, personal brand in her bid for the governorship while she serves as the AG.

The other side: Meanwhile her Republican opponent, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has been quiet, so far.

  • Sanders launched a TV ad on Sept. 10 that's not in heavy rotation. She participated in a 15-stop tour of the state in late August and early September. Her public appearances stopped there.

The intrigue: Rep. Mark Berry, R-Ozark, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Rutledge almost didn't do the vaccine ad, but "in her heart, she felt that it was the right thing to do as a leader to encourage people to be personally responsible and really strongly consider getting the shot."

  • Berry also is chairman of Rutledge's campaign for governor.
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