Pryor: I think Obama's minimum-wage hike is "too much, too fast"

Oh, boy. In his campaign to keep his seat this fall, Sen. Mark Pryor — a.k.a., Vulnerable Senate Democrat Number One — has naturally been putting all the distance between himself and ObamaCare that he possibly can. Arkansas went for Mitt Romney by a whopping 24 points, and according to a January Gallup poll, the average approval rating there for Obama throughout 2013 was a meager 35 percent.

But trying to redirect voters’ attention away from his pro-ObamaCare vote isn’t going to be nearly enough to convince Arkansans’ that he deserves another shot — and it sounds like Pryor is semi-bucking Democrats’ settled-upon economic populism strategery, the centerpiece of which is their proposed minimum-wage hike. His similarly vulnerable Democratic colleagues have so far declined to take their Obama self-differentiation quite that far, but oh, he’s going there, via Bloomberg:

Senator Mark Pryor, whose home state of Arkansas is headquarters of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says he will oppose raising the minimum wage.

“I know $10.10 still isn’t a whole lot of money, but I think it’s too much, too fast,” Pryor, who is seeking a third Senate term, said in an interview at the Capitol. “I’m not supportive of that.”

The National Retail Federation and the National Restaurant Association are among groups lobbying against the measure that have contributed to Pryor’s re-election bid. Arkansas also is among four states — Georgia, Minnesota and Wyoming are the others — that have set minimum wages below the federal level. …

That puts Pryor, 51, in the awkward spot of being off-message with his party. He’s the only Senate Democrat so far to say he’ll oppose the wage increase, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring up in early March.

Which could be pretty risky, seeing as how a minimum-wage hike is an at least a vaguely popular idea with most Americans. As recently as the end of December, Pryor was tentatively supporting an Arkansas ballot initiative that would take the state’s rate from $6.25 to $8.50 over three years, but perhaps the chance to demonstrate his independence from Obama on such a big issue by deeming it “too much, too fast” is too valuable to miss. The first Rasmussen poll of the race out this week confirms what other polls have been suggesting: His campaign is in serious trouble.

Congressman Tom Cotton holds a five-point lead over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Arkansas.

A new statewide survey of Likely Arkansas Voters finds Cotton with 45% support to Pryor’s 40%. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate in the race, and 10% are undecided.