Clever but risky. Clever because, in a state as red as Arkansas, he’s better off running against Mike Bloomberg than against his Republican opponent. Bloomy’s anti-gun group is spending huge sums to punish him for voting no on background checks and will probably continue to do so (unless, perhaps, Obama and Harry Reid see the Senate slipping away and beg him to stop), so Pryor can run with this “big-city liberals trying to push us around” meme for a good long while. It’s risky, though: His only chance of winning next year is if Arkansas’s black Democrats turn out in force, and running against Obama’s signature second-term policy initiative — he even mentions O by name in the ad — is … not the best way to make that happen. And Bloomy’s group knows it, per the second vid below. Their spokesman told Politico a few days ago that they’re aiming their ads in Arkansas explicitly at black voters; if the ads achieve their purpose by convincing some of those voters to stay home, Pryor’s sunk, which means Bloomy’s group is effectively working to elect a Republican. Sweet!
Why would they do that, though? They’ve concluded, I guess, that in order to win the war they have to lose a few battles. If Pryor goes down this year, it’s a warning to future red-state Democrats that defying the gun-control lobby is just as potentially dangerous to them as defying the NRA. If Bloomberg can make the electoral calculus on gun votes neutral-ish then centrist Dems like Pryor will be more likely to vote with the party in the future. That message will be especially potent if southern Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan hold on to win in Louisiana and North Carolina, respectively, despite both voting yes on background checks. Seeing them all go down is fine, since it would mean pro-gun Republican incumbents in all three seats going forward; seeing Pryor win would also be tolerable, since the cost to the GOP in not gaining an extra Senate seat is somewhat offset by the lesson that it’s still in both parties’ interest to oppose gun control in red states. Seeing Pryor lose and the other two win, though, would be bad, especially if guns become a major issue in all three races. Finding strong Republican recruits to run is the first order of business to head off that scenario. It’s comforting to see that that’s starting to happen.
Exit question: Why would Pryor mention Obama by name here when his big political problem with local Democrats is being seen as a thorn in Obama’s side on guns? Does he really think he’s going to make up the difference in Democratic votes lost by getting Obama-hating conservatives to cross over?