Bill Clinton to open Pryor 2014 campaign


WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., will formally launch his re-election campaign in Little Rock on March 16 with a fundraiser featuring former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton, a former governor and Arkansas native, will headline the March 16 event.

“We are going to do the Statehouse Convention Center and we’re hoping to have a big crowd – standing room only,” Pryor said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Additional events for the Clinton have not been discussed, Pryor said.

Although no Republican has announced a challenge, campaign handicappers have already pegged Pryor as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the 2014 election cycle.

Pryor is now the lone Democrat in the Arkansas congressional delegation, a reversal of fortune from 2010 when the party held both Senate seats and three of four House seats. President Obama also fared poorly in Arkansas in the 2012 elections, losing the state by more than 20 points.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle are being talked about as possible Republican challengers to Pryor.

Given the landscape in 2014, the Arkansas Senate race will likely draw serious and sustained national attention. In 2012, spending by campaigns and outside groups in the top Senate races – Virginia, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Ohio – topped $84 million a piece.

Pryor said he is still focused on his job as a senator but conceded the need to begin his campaign early. Pryor also noted that the expense of campaigning continues to escalate.

“I’m hoping that I am able in the campaign to talk about my bipartisan successes and how I am able to help Arkansas up here,” he said.

Pryor had nearly $1.8 million in his campaign treasury at the close of September 2012, according to his latest financial report.

Aside from the March 16 event, Pryor is also holding a luncheon Jan. 31 in Washington to raise additional funds for his 2014 campaign.

Experian PAC, Direct Voice PAC, VenPAC, Interactive Advertising Bureau, and Magazine Publishers of America PAC are sponsoring the event. Tickets range from $1,000 for individuals to $5,000 for hosts.