Mark Pryor-Tom Cotton Senate race takes center stage | Arkansas Blog

Mark Pryor-Tom Cotton Senate race takes center stage


EYES ON ARKANSAS: Can Mark Pryor withstand a challenge in a reddening state?
  • EYES ON ARKANSAS: Can Mark Pryor withstand a challenge in a reddening state?
The race for Senate between incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton has national implications for the makeup of the Senate, as Republicans believe Arkansas is one of their best shots at picking up a new seat. 

The Wall Street Journal today takes a long look at the Arkansas race and changing political dynamics in the state. The landscape is familiar: the state is red and reddening, and Republicans believe that Obama (and Obamacare) represent a burden to Pryor in Arkansas that he will be unable to overcome.

Five years ago, Mr. Pryor coasted to a second term, but it was a different world. In 2008, Congress had dozens of conservative Democrats; the Tea Party had not yet made a mark on the GOP; and Arkansas remained a Democratic Party bastion, a holdout against the GOP tide that swept the South over the last half century.

Now, Mr. Pryor, son of one of Arkansas' most popular political figures, is the state's remaining Democrat in Congress and one of the last of Washington's "Blue Dogs," as the dwindling ranks of conservative Democrats are known. The state still has a Democratic governor, but since Mr. Obama was first elected president, Arkansas' state legislature and U.S. House delegation have flipped from blue to red.

Porter Briggs, a Little Rock businessman and lifelong Democrat, had always supported Mr. Pryor and Mr. Pryor's father, David Pryor, a former senator and governor. But disappointed in Mr. Pryor's support of the health-care law, Mr. Briggs said he let the senator know he would back his likely 2014 opponent, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton. The Arkansas Poll in October found voters evenly split between the two men.

University of Arkansas professor Janine Parry frames it this way: "The question is: Does the rightward shift in Arkansas voters solidify, to continue beyond this particular president, who continues to be peculiarly unpopular here, or can the Democrats white-knuckle it to 2016 and win back at least some of the brand loyalty they enjoyed for more than 100 years?" 

It's all familiar territory but the whole thing is worth a read

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