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A Look at Last Week: A Tale of Two Very Different Campaigns in Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional

LITTLE ROCK — The nationally-watched race for Arkansas’s 2nd Congressional District has become increasingly competitive, with a visit to the district from Congressman John Lewis on behalf of Democratic challenger Clarke Tucker and a visit from Vice President Mike Pence, who stumped for Republican incumbent French Hill Friday. But a look at last week shows how different the two campaigns really are.

“This last week really gets to the heart of the differences in our campaigns,” Tucker said. “They are running a divisive campaign that is not accessible to the people here in Central Arkansas and that focuses on misleading and false attacks against me. We are just running a completely different style of race that is focused on people and the issues that are affecting them and their family — like affordable health care and better-paying jobs, not the politics of partisanship and exclusion — and we are meeting people where they are to have those conversations.”

Tucker, a 37-year old cancer survivor and state legislator, has been campaigning hard across the district, agreeing to forums and debates, visiting all the county fairs, and answering tough questions from the media and voters. Hill, however, has failed to show up, choosing a closed-door campaign fundraiser over a televised debate and reportedly canceling tickets to a public event to people with differing political ideologies and even to some media.

Tuesday: At the Building Owner Managers Association luncheon, Clarke Tucker and Congressman Hill spoke to voters on issues. Though it appeared to be a rare occasion when Congressman Hill would agree to appear with Tucker, Congressman Hill would only agree to speak if he could go after Tucker and if rebuttals were not allowed.

Wednesday: Clarke Tucker participated in a solo candidate forum while Hill held a closed-door fundraiser. Last month, KATV and Talk Business and Politics invited Clarke Tucker and French Hill to appear together in a televised debate, taking questions from media and from voters through Facebook. Congressman Hill turned down the opportunity to answer questions and discuss issues, instead choosing to attend a closed-door campaign fundraiser. Tucker agreed to a solo candidate forum and took dozens of questions from moderators and voters.

Thursday: Clarke Tucker held a press conference in which he condemned third-party mailers as racist and asked Congressman Hill to join him in denouncing the fear-mongering literature from the Republican Majority Fund. One of the mailers invoked the tragic death of Kate Steinle, whose family has respectfully asked that her death not be politicized. French Hill remained silent, declining to comment to the Associated Press on the controversial mailers.

Friday: Vice President Mike Pence campaigned for Congressman Hill in the form of a rally and high-dollar fundraiser. Event tickets were reportedly canceled to those with differing political ideologies as the French Hill campaign sought to hand-pick their crowd. As the GOP rally took place on Friday afternoon, Clarke Tucker was in Faulkner County, going to door-to-door in the rain talking with voters about the issues that matter to them and their families before heading to the Van Buren County Fair.

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