Posted 8/7/2013 01:21 pm
Updated 1 year ago
LITTLE ROCK - Two conservative advocacy groups said Wednesday they're prepared to back Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton's bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor next year, an early signal of the national attention and dollars the Arkansas race figures to attract.
The Club for Growth's political action committee endorsed Cotton the day after the first-term congressman announced he'd challenge Pryor, while the Senate Conservatives Fund said it was open to backing Cotton. The Club for Growth also said it would begin airing new ads criticizing Pryor, who is seeking a third term.
"Club members strongly support replacing left-wing Democrat and Obama supporter Mark Pryor with fiscally conservative Tom Cotton, and we suspect Arkansans do as well," Club President Chris Chocola said in a statement issued by the group.
The SCF, which was founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, stopped short of endorsing Cotton but embraced his candidacy. The group has said defeating Pryor is its biggest priority in next year's election.
"We like Tom Cotton and we're open to supporting his campaign if he leads on the big issues and excites the grassroots in Arkansas," SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins said in a statement issued by the group.
Both groups already had aired ads around the state criticizing Pryor before Cotton announced his bid, with spots trying to tie the two-term senator to President Barack Obama. The club's newest ad, which will begin airing Thursday, continued that criticism. The Club for Growth had backed Cotton's congressional campaign last year and had signaled it was ready to support him if he ran for Senate.
Pryor, who was first elected in 2002, has gone after Cotton with a 60-second television spot that began airing Tuesday. Pryor and his campaign have accused the Republican of alienating voters by opposing a student loan measure in the House last week, the Violence Against Women Act and an initial version of the Farm Bill.
Pryor's campaign continued that criticism Wednesday as it dismissed the Club for Growth spot.
"This is another example of Tom Cotton's out-of-state special interest buddies trying to sway Arkansans. We've seen it before and we'll see it again because they own him," campaign spokeswoman Amy Schlesing said. "That's why he voted against the farm bill, against affordable student loans and fair pay, hurting Arkansas farmers, students, seniors, women and families with his reckless votes."
Cotton announced his bid Tuesday night in his hometown of Dardanelle, accusing Pryor of representing Obama more than Arkansas and blasting the senator for supporting the federal health care law.
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