2013 is winding to a close and it’s high time to carve out some space and look at the critical parts of the agenda for next year. At the top of that list has to be the eminently doable task of picking up six seats in the United States Senate and relieving Harry Reid from his oppressive duties as Majority Leader. One of the golden opportunities on this front will be found in the person of current Democrat Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Not everyone would pick Pryor as a likely choice for a GOP takeaway, since the two term Pryor comes from a long established state party machine family (his father was a three term Senator as well as Governor) and has the full support of the Clinton machine in Arkansas. But as a recent analysis by the NRSC shows, Pryor’s career arc in the upper chamber is looking more and more like a replay of Blanche Lincoln.
Meet Blanche Lincoln 2.0… Mark Pryor has the name, has the money, has the Clinton machine, and is running for re-election in Arkansas, a state that proved those talking points won’t get you very far if you are fundamentally misaligned with the electorate.
A quick historical refresher, Lincoln lost her seat by 21-points (despite outspending her opponent by more than 4x).
In 2010, Lincoln and her team were quick to point to her fundraising prowess as a strong indication that she was going to hold her seat despite being in a solidly red state. The FEC shows that she raised over $1 million in each quarter of 2009 and went into 2010 with over $5 million cash on hand – sums very similar to Mark Pryor’s fundraising operation which brought in $1.04 million (an amount lower than both his previous quarter and his challenger Rep. Tom Cotton). Then she lost by 21-points.
Pryor is facing a host of problems, ranging from demographics to being an increasingly bad fit policy-wise with the voters of his state. He did well in his last outing, but that was during a Democratic landslide with heavy Democrat turnout supporting Barack Obama. This cycle will undoubtedly turn out a decidedly older and more conservative voter pool than he saw last time. And on top of the general trends, voters will soon be reminded that Pryor, who represents a fairly red state, has been acting less and less like a free thinker and more like a free range liberal. Take this video of Pryor talking about taxes for example.
PRYOR: What we need is not to use the debt ceiling to hold hostage to try to get our fiscal house in order, we need to do a more comprehensive approach. You know, one of the problems, quite honestly, is that a lot of people don’t want to put taxes on the table. I think we should put taxes on the table. And again I think we should look at the recommendations that have come from Simpson Bowles or some of the other studies.
Yes… that should really go over well with Arkansas voters.
Another area where Pryor has opened himself up to surrendering his seat to the GOP is found in his support of and votes in favor of keeping Obamacare. One of the most recent polls in the field shows precisely how his constituents feel about that topic. Check out these two cascaded responses. The first is the generic, “if the election were held today” between Pryor and Republican Congressman Tom Cotton, who would you vote for.
Cotton comes out on top, but only by a little. (Certainly not enough to account for the undecided voters and leaners as a slam dunk.) But now watch what happens when voters are informed about Pryor’s record on Obamacare.
Quite the difference, eh? This is one of the races we should not only be watching, but getting actively engaged in. The GOP, as noted above, is in a remarkably good position this cycle. There are 35 seats in the Senate up for grabs and we’re only defending 14 of them, mostly deep red in nature. Of the remaining 24 seats currently held by Democrats, Republicans only need to pick up six. And Pryor, noted in the NRSC analysis as possibly “the most vulnerable incumbent” among them, should be very high on the list. Tom Cotton is a proven performer and veteran of two wars. He’s already attracting a lot of statewide support at home, but this race is no cakewalk and he can use all the help he can get. You can learn more here.