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2 try to block Boozman’s path to third U.S. Senate term

James, Cates urge change, offer differing visions of it by Michael R. Wickline | October 30, 2022 at 8:27 a.m.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman (left), R-Ark., faces two challengers in the 2022 general election: Democrat Natalie James (center) and Libertarian Kenneth Cates. (Courtesy photos)

In seeking his third six-year term in the U.S. Senate, Republican John Boozman of Rogers says voters should cast their ballots for him because he's been right on the issues and has worked hard at representing Arkansas with its "conservative values."

Democratic and Libertarian challengers say it's time for voters to send Boozman home.

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Natalie James of Little Rock said voters should vote for her because she would be a voice for all Arkansans, "not just the donors, not just the corporate benefactors, but the actual people, and not just people in one corner of the state."

Libertarian candidate Kenneth Cates of Harrison said voters should cast their ballots for him because, "I will answer to the American people, not corporations and special interest group lobbyists that donate to elections."

Boozman has served in the U.S. Senate since 2011, after ousting Democratic U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln in November 2010. He represented Arkansas' 3rd Congressional District from 2001 until 2011. He is the senior member of Arkansas' congressional delegation.

He said he hopes to become chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry if Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate, or at least be the ranking Republican member of the Senate committee.

The 2018 federal farm bill will expire Sept. 30, 2023, so it will be up for reauthorization.

Boozman said agriculture represents 25% of the state's economy and he wants to work through "all the issues that we have going on there and making sure that we have a vibrant rural Arkansas, a vibrant rural Arkansas."

James, who is a real estate agent, said she wants to make sure that farmers are better protected and able to compete in the global marketplace. She said she doesn't want farmers to have to compete for federal agricultural grants, particularly Black farmers.

Cates, who is a firefighter and paramedic, said he would like to see states take over the subsidies that farmers receive, for better accountability.

"However, this is such a small percent of the federal budget that it wouldn't even be on my radar as something to change," he said. "I would help farmers, and everyone else, by fighting against out of control and corrupt federal spending that cause increased prices, especially fuel. I would look at EPA regulations and try to repeal any that are not necessary, and restrict farmers."

In the May 24 primary, Boozman survived Republican challenges from former NFL player Jake Bequette of Little Rock, gun range owner Jan Morgan of Hot Springs and pastor Heath Loftis of Stuttgart, after Boozman was endorsed by former Republican President Donald Trump.

Boozman's victory capped off Arkansas' highest-profile congressional campaign in the primary after millions of dollars in spending between campaigns and super PACs. In the May 24 primary, James defeated small-business owner Dan Whitfield of Bella Vista and former Pine Bluff alderman Jack Foster.

Through Sept. 30, Boozman reported receipts totaling $7.29 million and disbursements totaling $6.66 million in this election cycle. He reported cash on hand of $1.35 million on Sept. 30.

Through Sept. 30, James reported receipts totaling $64,099 and disbursements totaling $36,839. She reported cash on hand of $27,259 on Sept. 30.

A campaign finance report for Cates was not posted on the Federal Election Commission website as of Friday.

Boozman said the most important thing on the minds of Arkansans is inflation. He said the average Arkansan is spending an additional $569 a month compared to last year, citing figures from the Republican members of the Joint Economic Committee.

He said the way to get inflation under control is largely energy-based.

"We need to drill more. We need to get the regulations in place that [make] it easier to produce energy, all the forms of energy," Boozman said.

He said inflation also has been fueled by the federal government spending too much money, and he wants to prevent the Biden administration from coming up with any more $1.9 trillion programs like the federal American Rescue Plan that the Democratic-controlled Congress enacted in March of 2021.

Boozman said he voted against the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act because "the Democrats added $300 billion of just stuff that had nothing to do with infrastructure at all, just additional spending along with all of the electric vehicle stuff that really inflated the price."

He said he also voted against the $800 billion health, tax and climate bill that is called the Inflation Reduction Act, and "all of this is just putting gasoline on the fire."

James countered that Republicans are doing "a lot of complaining when we need to be focused on solutions."

"If we are not focused on solutions, then it is time to put somebody in office that is going to actually focus on solutions," she said.

"Now when we are talking about inflation, we have to be real and be honest about it. We are talking about corporate-induced inflation," James said. "This is the highest inflation we have seen in 40 years, but it is also the highest corporate profits we have seen in 50 years.

"It sounds like we have a corporate greed and induced inflation problem," she said.

James said she would have voted for the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act because they would help all Arkansans, "especially those who need it most.

"We need a senator who will vote for lower prescription drugs, insurance premiums and energy bills rather than siding with the corporations," she said. She said she also would have voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Boozman said he doesn't think corporations are inducing inflation because corporations and business people are struggling to keep their costs down.

"I think those are Biden Administration talking points," he said. "They are trying to blame everybody but themselves for the fact that we have got this hyperinflation."

Cates said the federal government has to stop the unnecessary, ineffective and often corrupt federal spending to fix inflation because "this ultimately leads to high prices and layoffs."

He said he would have voted against the American Rescue Plan, Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

James said she supports raising the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour "as a start," and providing subsidies to those businesses that are not able to provide that minimum wage, so the hardship isn't placed on the working class, and to ensure the businesses can pay that minimum wage.

"That would be one of the first steps to help everybody, especially with how much it costs to live in Arkansas," she said.

The federal minimum is currently $7.25 an hour.

When asked about raising the federal minimum wage, Boozman said he wants to visit with business people and the people affected. He said there aren't many people making minimum wage.

He noted Arkansas voters approved an initiated act in November 2018 to gradually raise the state's minimum wage from $8.50 an hour to $11 an hour by 2021.

Asked about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, Boozman said "I don't know where $15 comes from."

Cates said he doesn't support raising the federal minimum wage because "if we raise the minimum wage, along with the current high inflation, this will ultimately hurt people" and many businesses will lay off or reduce hours in order to compensate for the difference.

James said she wants Congress to codify the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion across the country, which the high court overturned June 24. Shortly after the high court's action, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge certified Act 180 of 2019, which bans abortion except to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency in Arkansas.

James said she wants to protect "people with uteruses and young daughters."

"The word abortion is being thrown around like it is something horrible but just means to clear the uterus, so when you start using correct terms it helps people actually understand," she said.

James said she believes a majority of Arkansans support codifying Roe v. Wade.

Boozman said "I think the Supreme Court got it right."

"I don't think that there is a constitutional right, anything in the Constitution, that says that you can have an abortion," he said. "They pushed it back to the states."

Boozman said he opposes abortion and would allow for exceptions to save the life of the mother and rape and incest.

He said he would vote for legislation proposed by Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy "if that were the choice."

The bill would allow for abortions in situations involving rape, incest, or risks to the life and physical health of the mother, and leave in place state laws that are more protective of unborn life, according to Graham's office.

"I think that's a reasonable floor and I could support that," Boozman said.

Cates said "I am pro life" and "I believe the federal government should protect life."

He said he would vote for a federal ban on abortion except "in those very rare cases" to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape and incest.

James said she wants to save democracy and voting rights, and she supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

"It doesn't matter whether you are voting for a Republican, an independent, Libertarian, or Green Party, you should have the right to vote and it should be automatic," she said.

Boozman said he voted against the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

"What the Democrats are trying to do now is to federalize our election system," he said.

The nation's 5o states currently are in charge of election integrity themselves, so it's difficult to somehow intervene in a national election, he said.

Print Headline: Boozman faces 2 challengers for 3rd Senate term


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