Incumbent Mark Pryor holds one of the most vulnerable Senate seats going into the 2014 election. He is a Democrat seeking re-election in a red state that has voted Republican in the last three presidential elections. This, combined with the unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act makes this a tough re-election cycle for Pryor.
Pryor will face Representative Tom Cotton (R) in the general election in November. As of May 2014, polling shows Pryor with a slight edge over Cotton. Pryor also leads the challenger in cash-on-hand with $4,147,607 to Cotton's $2,364,036 as of the FEC's Pre-Primary reports.
Candidate Filing Deadline
March 3, 2014
May 20, 2014
November 4, 2014
Primary: Arkansas is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.
Incumbent: 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.
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 its poor implementation thus far, is likely to be a major issue that Pryor will have to overcome in order to win re-election.
On April 13, 2014, challenger Tom Cotton called for a series of five debates with incumbent Mark Pryor. He proposed holding debates in five different regions of Arkansas without moderators asking questions. Cotton said, "There used to be a time in our politics when voters could look the two candidates in the eye and hear from them directly — that's what I'm inviting Senator Pryor to participate in today." Pryor's campaign issued the following response, "Mark looks forward to debating Congressman Cotton at the appropriate time."
Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling
After being asked about Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, Cotton responded "It's another example of how Obamacare infringes on the liberties of all Arkansans. Barack Obama and Mark Pryor think that faith is something that only happens at 11:00 on Sunday mornings. That's when we worship but faith is what we live every single day. And the government shouldn't infringe on the rights of religious liberty. So I'm pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling but it's just another example of why Obamacare is bad for Arkansas."
Pryor responded to the statement with his own saying, "I’m disappointed in Congressman Cotton’s deeply personal attack on me. He and I may disagree on issues, but for him to question my faith is out of bounds. From a young age I have never shied away from talking about the importance of God in my life, and it’s my Christian faith that gives me comfort and guidance to be a steady voice for Arkansas in the Senate."
Cotton then sent the following statement to The Hill, "Senator Pryor is a man of faith, which I respect. That's why it's so disappointing that Senator Pryor still defends Obamacare even after the Supreme Court said it violated freedom of religion. Senator Pryor supports taxpayer funding for abortion and would force Christians to pay for abortions despite their deeply held religious beliefs. That's a real attack on faith."
According to an analysis by The Washington Post, the U.S. Senate election in Arkansas was considered one of the top 10 Senate races of 2014. As of late 2013, Pryor still remained one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents up for re-election.
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are important votes the current incumbent cast during the 113th Congress.
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 funded 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.