Enter David Pryor, who is on a rescue mission to preserve his family’s political dynasty and keep the Democratic Party itself from extinction here. A popular and populist figure in Arkansas for 30 years until his 1997 retirement, Pryor, 80, is returning to small towns such as Harrison with a folksy, personalized pitch for his embattled son.
Boone County illustrates his challenge. Clinton carried Boone in his 1992 presidential campaign, as did Mark Pryor in his 2008 Senate race. But in 2012, this poor, culturally conservative and rural jurisdiction backed Republican Mitt Romney over President Obama by 73 percent to 25 percent.
This week, David Pryor’s host told him the local Democratic Party had become so weak that Mark was likely to lose Boone to Republican Tom Cotton. But that didn’t hold the elder Pryor back.