Posted 10/15/2013 02:44 pm
LITTLE ROCK - U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton each have raised more than $1 million as the two prepare for a tough Senate race in Arkansas, but the two-term senator has more money in the bank for next year's election, campaign finance reports released Tuesday show.
Cotton, a first-term lawmaker who in August announced his challenge to Pryor, reported more than $1.07 million in total receipts during the quarter that ended Sept. 30. Pryor reported nearly $1.07 million, his campaign said.
But Pryor reported having much more money available, with $4.4 million in the bank compared with Cotton's $1.8 million. Pryor, a Democrat who was first elected in 2002, is widely viewed by Republicans as the most vulnerable Senate incumbent running next year. Tuesday was the deadline for campaigns to file their quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission.
"Folks here know Mark as someone who always puts Arkansas first, and voters next year will have a clear choice between Congressman Cotton's narrow, reckless agenda and Mark's record as a responsible and reliable voice for Arkansas families," Pryor campaign manager Jeff Weaver said in a statement.
Cotton said he believes his fundraising shows strong support for his bid to unseat Pryor.
"I hear repeatedly that we need a Senator who will not just talk about putting Arkansas first but who will actually vote in Arkansas's best interests," Cotton said in a statement.
Pryor also reported more in expenses than Cotton, with the Democratic senator's campaign spending more than $570,000 during the quarter. Cotton's campaign reported spending more than $311,000.
The two already are engaged in an expensive television ad war more than a year before the general election, with the candidates and allied groups running spots focused on the federal government shutdown.
Cotton campaign manager Justin Brasell acknowledged the gap in cash on hand between the two rivals but says he is pleased with Cotton's standing as they prepare for next year's race.
"I think it's a big first step for our campaign," Brasell said. "It speaks to the strong desire for change among Arkansans."
Weaver said he believes Pryor's campaign is in a strong position as it heads into the final quarter.
"Nobody is more credible than Mark Pryor to get out his message," Weaver said. "We'll have the resources that we need to finish the campaign."
Even before Cotton joined the race, Pryor had faced pressure from conservative groups that have made defeating the incumbent lawmaker a priority. Club for Growth, a conservative group backing Cotton, began airing ads in March targeting Pryor and unveiled a new spot criticizing the Democratic lawmaker last week. A gun control group co-founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also has aired ads criticizing Pryor for opposing expanded background checks for firearms.
The Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group, is running ads criticizing Cotton over the shutdown.
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