Arkansas has an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.
The election will fill the Senate seat currently held by Mark Pryor (D). Pryor was first elected in 2002 and is running for re-election in 2014. Pryor is currently the only Democratic member in Arkansas' congressional delegation.
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Arkansas's senate seat currently held by Mark Pryor, a Democrat in a red state, is considered to be one of the most vulnerable in the country. The state has become increasingly Republican since Bill Clinton was governor, having voted for George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney in the last three presidential elections. Pryor's seat is also the only remaining seat held by a Democrat in the state's congressional delegation.
Additionally, the unpopularity of President Obama's healthcare mandate, combined with it's poor implementation thus far, is likely to be a major issue that Pryor will have to overcome in order to win re-election.
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During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funds the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies. The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Mark Pryor voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.
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