Mark Pryor Launches Women's Issues Coalition

by Andrew DeMillo, The Associated Press  on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 11:42 am  

Mark Pryor

LITTLE ROCK — U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor launched a coalition Thursday to tout his positions supporting raising Arkansas' minimum wage and pay equity as he tries to turn out the women's vote in his re-election campaign.

Announcing the launch of a "Women for Pryor" coalition, the two-term Democratic lawmaker from Arkansas blasted Republican rival and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton as out of touch with the state on women's issues.

"When it comes to women's issues, my opponent is not listening to Arkansas," Pryor said at a rally at a Little Rock restaurant to announce the new coalition.

Pryor criticized Cotton for not saying whether he supports a measure vying for a spot on the ballot that would gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017. Pryor has opposed a push by the Obama administration to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016, but has endorsed the state initiative. Cotton also opposes the federal minimum wage hike, but has said he's studying the state measure.

Election officials are reviewing petitions to determine whether enough signatures were submitted to place the measure on the ballot. Pryor and other top Democratic hopefuls support the measure and view it as a way to boost turnout in November.

"My opponent, guess what, refuses to say where he is on this issue. He's dodging this issue," Pryor said.

Pryor also touted his support of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation aimed at narrowing the gender pay gap that was blocked by Republicans in the Senate in April. Cotton has opposed the measure.

"Equal pay for equal work is not a women's issue. It's an economic issue," Pryor said. "It's good for everybody if we fix that."

Cotton's campaign spokesman accused Pryor of being the one not representing women.

"Arkansas women know that the Obama-Pryor agenda has been bad for them and has increased costs of health care coverage, made it harder to find a job, and driven up the price of everything from gasoline to groceries," Cotton spokesman David Ray said in an email. "Tom Cotton will be a senator who listens to all Arkansans, not one who simply rubber-stamps President Obama's agenda."

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win control of the Senate and view Arkansas as key to that bid. The candidates and outside groups combined have spent more than $20 million on the race.

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