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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A former federal consumer product regulator dropped his bid for the Arkansas Legislature Wednesday and is now trying to unseat the state’s Republican attorney general.

Mike Lee filed paperwork to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. Lee, 70, is the first Democrat to announce a race against Rutledge, who filed last week to seek re-election.

Lee, a Little Rock attorney and a former compliance officer for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, had originally filed to run for a state House seat but said he switched to the AG’s race after encouragement from supporters.

“My history and my experience and everything I’ve gone through in my lifetime has probably more prepared me for an office like attorney general than the Legislature,” Lee told reporters.

Lee avoided direct criticism of Rutledge, saying he planned to later outline his differences with the Republican. He said he supports the death penalty but disagreed with a plan Rutledge’s office defended in court to execute eight inmates over an 11-day period in April before a lethal injection drug expired. Lee said the schedule of executions “looked rushed.” Arkansas ultimately put four men to death after the other four were spared by state and federal courts.

Lee also said he supports the federal health overhaul, which Rutledge has repeatedly criticized and called for repealing.

Rutledge, who was first elected in 2014, has more than $388,000 in the bank for her re-election bid, according to her latest fundraising report.

“The people of Arkansas know that the right experience matters, and I am honored by the outpouring of support I’ve received from across the state for my re-election as Arkansas’s chief law enforcement officer,” she said in a statement issued by her campaign. “As I’ve proven every day, no one will outwork me on behalf of Arkansans.”

Libertarian nominee Kerry Hicks also filed to run for attorney general Wednesday. The Libertarian Party selected its nominees at its convention on Saturday. The one-week filing period for state and federal office in Arkansas ends Thursday.


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