Arkansas Senate: Cotton Unseats Pryor

Republicans score a big win in Bill Clinton's home state, where voters are strongly opposed to President Barack Obama.

Representative Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republicans' Senate nominee, takes a selfie with campaign volunteer Aubrie Brister on Nov. 2, 2014, in Bentonville, Ark.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Bloomberg Politics is reporting that Republican Representative Tom Cotton is the apparent winner of Arkansas' Senate race, giving the state two Republican senators for the first time in more than a century.

Cotton, 37, will enter the Senate next year as its youngest member. He was elected to the House in 2012 and is a Harvard-educated Army veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Incumbent Mark Pryor was burdened by President Barack Obama's unpopularity in a state he lost in the 2012 election by 24 percentage points, his biggest losing margin in any state where a Democratic senator sought re-election. Cotton linked Pryor to Obama at every turn, mentioning the president or Obamacare by name 77 times in a candidate debate last month.

"A vote for Mark Pryor is a vote for Barack Obama's failed policies," Cotton said in that debate.

Pryor touted a record of political independence and attacked Cotton for voting against a reauthorization of farm and food programs.

"The only thing my opponent offers is to fight Obama," Pryor said in a television ad last week. "I've had my share of disagreements with this president and other presidents, but I also work with Republicans to get things done."

Pryor's defeat is a personal setback for Bill Clinton, who stumped for Pryor multiple times in the state there he was governor of Arkansas for a dozen years prior to his election as president in 1992. Clinton was elected governor in 1978, the same year that Pryor's father, Democrat David Pryor, won his first of three terms in the Senate.

Cotton becomes Arkansas's third Republican senator since the Reconstruction era following the Civil War. The state's other senator, Republican John Boozman, trounced Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln in the 2010 election. The first Arkansas Republican senator since Reconstruction was Tim Hutchinson, who was elected in 1996 and then unseated by Pryor in 2002.


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