North Little Rock attorney eyeing AG race

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

In 2010, Republicans did not even field a candidate for attorney general, but that may change in 2014 if a North Little Rock attorney jumps into the race.

David Sterling confirmed Monday that he is exploring a run to be the state's top attorney.

"I've just been talking to a lot of friends and supporters trying to evaluate the race and that sort of thing right now," he said. "I've been getting nothing but positive feedback so far."

Sterling, who holds a law degree and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said he if he decides to jump into the race for attorney general, his goal will be protecting Arkansans from "an overreaching federal government."

"I view this office as a critically important position in defending the constitution, especially the 10th amendment that grants broad powers to the states and individuals," he said.

Having never served in elected office before, Sterling said he knew a race would be tough and expensive.

In order to run and win, Sterling said he expects to raise between $500,000 and $1.5 million.

"(It depends) on if there is a primary or not," Sterling added.

While he has been speaking to supporters and friends, Sterling has also sought counsel from his wife, Deeni, and his 10-year-old daughter.

"We've been praying through this as a family," he said. "My wife has been very supportive of the things I've pursued."

Should Sterling run for attorney general, he may not be the only Sterling in front of the camera engaging with Arkansas voters.

"(Deeni) will be actively involved in the campaign," he said. "She's been very supportive of the things I've done in the past and she'll be an advocate for (the campaign)."

Prior to entering practice as a lawyer, Sterling served as assistant city manager of Hope for a little over a year in the late 1990s.

David Ray, communications director for the Republican Party of Arkansas, said while the party did not field a candidate in 2010, he does not see Sterling or any other potential candidate's chances of victory as slim.

"I would say that quite a bit has changed in this state since the 2010 election and Republicans all across the state of Arkansas are in a much better position than they were just two short years ago," Ray said, specifically citing Republican victories in federal races in 2010 and 2012 and Republicans taking control of both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly for the first time in over 130 years.

Regardless of who is the candidate for attorney general or any other statewide offices, Ray said candidates can expect support from the party.

"Folks following the process can expect us to put weight and resources to elect Republicans statewide in the next election cycle," he said.

Sterling, who a holds an "AV" rating ("very high to preeminent" in terms of ability and expertise) from his peers in the legal community, said he will not announce a decision on a potential run until early April.

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He said if he does run, constituents should know he has the skills necessary to be a competent and successful attorney general.

"I think my experience as an attorney and my admission to practice before state and federal courts qualifies me to serve as attorney general," he said.

State Sen. Robert Thompson, D-Paragould, has acknowledged exploring a run for attorney general as well.

Other candidates rumored to be exploring a run include:
• current Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's Chief of Staff Blake Rutherford, a Democrat;
• Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter, R-Cabot, and,
• University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Chancellor Chris Thomason, a Democrat and former prosecuting attorney for Arkansas' 8th Judicial District.

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