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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In the unlikely event that Mark Pryor wins re-election as Arkansas’ senior U.S. Senator in 2014, he should send New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg a thank-you gift. Something like a sugary 44-ounce Big Gulp or a case of Dr Pepper. Offering His Honor a 30.06 deer rifle would be churlish.

Unlike liberal groups who scared up a primary opponent for former Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2010, predictably helping her lose to a cookie-cutter GOP conservative, Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns has given the beleaguered Democrat, well, a target to shoot at.

Angered with Pryor’s Senate vote against broadening background checks for gun sales—one of four Democrats to do so—Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been running TV ads in Arkansas citing the murder of state Democratic Party chair Bill Gwatney by a deranged gunman in 2008.

Narrated by former Democratic Party official Angela Bradford-Barnes, the commercial expresses the disgust of just about every Arkansas Democrat I know with what they saw as Pryor’s cowardly vote. “The Caspar Milquetoast of Arkansas politics,” one acerbic columnist dubbed him.

“When my dear, innocent friend was shot to death, I didn’t blame guns,” Bradford-Barnes says, “I blamed a system that makes it so terribly easy for criminals or the dangerous mentally ill to buy guns.”

Pryor has said that he found the politicizing of his friend’s murder “disgusting.” Maybe he did.

Tactically speaking, the problem with the Bloomberg ad is that just about every Democrat I know lives either in Hillcrest, basically the Upper West Side of Little Rock, or in the college town of Fayetteville—completely atypical of Arkansas voters generally. They can be as disgusted as they like. But they have exactly nowhere to go.

Blanche Lincoln carried Hillcrest handily against Rep. John Boozman in 2010. She lost statewide 58 to 37 percent.

President Obama also carried Pulaski County (Little Rock) in 2010; Mitt Romney won Arkansas by 24 points.

So you can see Pryor’s dilemma. Meanwhile, the billionaire-coddling Club for Growth (or “Club for Greed” as former Gov. Mike Huckabee once called it) has also been hammering the Arkansas Democrat with TV ads blaming him for President Obama’s supposedly runaway spending.

But more about that to come.

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8 responses to “Bloomberg’s Gift To Arkansas’ Pro-Gun Pryor”

  1. Sand_Cat says:

    Fear and loathing of Obama has “reached” cult-like proportions in these backward states? Well, I guess you could say it “reached” that, only a long, long time ago. I’m sure they found the prospect of a black president horrific long before Obama was born; it just didn’t seem possible then. Like other Republicans who fear Democrats will use all the Republicans’ own repressive laws and policies against them, southern and other Republican racists are terrified that a government headed by an African American will treat them even a fraction as badly as their white governments treated black people. It is perhaps in some ways unfortunate that both of these fears are groundless.

  2. John Pigg says:

    This article does right to point to the differences between Democratic legislators in safe districts and those within Republican leaning ones. Both parties need to allow for more flexibility for their representatives from unsafe districts.

  3. CrankyToo says:

    I don’t understand what the author of this article, Gene Lyons is saying in this piece. But it appears to be that a cowardly, obsequious, incumbent Democrat in the Senate is a better deal than a cowardly, obsequious Repugnican challenger.

    I say, bullshit. You replace this toady (Pryor) when he stands for reelection, then you replace the next toady six years later, and so on, and so forth, all across the country, until they learn to stand up for us like men (and women); like real patriots – not the Tea Party, watered-down variety. Kick them out, everywhere, every time, until they get it.

    It ain’t rocket surgery, folks.

    • Gene Lyons says:

      As should be obvious, I hold no brief for Pryor. But control of the US Senate definitely matters, and purging heretics comes with a cost.

      Pryor has voted with the Obama administration a lot more often than not. That’s the main reason he’s in trouble.

      A Republican replacement never would, and certainly not Pryor’s presumed opponent Tom Cotton, who whatever else can be said of him, definitely isn’t cowardly or obsequious. He’s an aggressive right-wing ideologue.

      • neeceoooo says:

        Thank you Mr. Lyons, I always enjoy reading your articles.

      • CrankyToo says:

        Your points are valid and I concur with all of that. But the only way we’re going to reclaim our democracy is by playing a longer game.

        In the case of the Senate failing to pass legislation which, I’m given to understand was supported by (variously) 90 to 92% of Americans, there were 4 Democrat and 41 Republican Senators who thumbed their noses at “we the people”. We need to unseat EVERY one of those cowards when next they stand for reelection, and we need to do the same to every encumbent who acts contrary to the will of the people. Like I said, everyone, everywhere, every time.

        Incidentally, referring to them as cowards is an act of generosity on my part because what I really think is that, by and large, these people are much lower forms of life. Cowardice can never be admired, but it can be forgiven, whereas these people who violate our bedrock principles and besmirch the integrity of our Congress cannot.

        But whether we refer to these traitors as cowards, obsequious toadies, or “aggressive right-wing ideologues”, we’re talking about the same bunch of rats. And the only way to rid ourselves of them is by voting them out every time – guys like Pryor included. It won’t take many election cycles for them to start getting the message that if they want to work for the oligarchics, they’re going to have to do it as PFCs (Private F##king Citizens).

        I’m not naive enough to believe that this battleship can be turned around quickly and without help. In fact, it can’t be done at all, until or unless you and your colleagues in “the media” can find a way to bring the truth to the knuckleheads who are so pervasive within the electorate.

        I don’t even know where I’m going with this, but I could easily waste the whole night on it. Suffice to say, I don’t think the answer is rewarding guys like Pryor for turning against us, just because the alternative is more odious. That’s not getting us anywhere; it’s only perpetuating the problem.

  4. FredAppell says:

    This is the same State that Bill and Hillary had to drag kicking and screaming into the 20th century. I would really like to know what the point of this article is though. If the author is trying to suggest that the Democrats would be better off with someone other than Mark Pryor, good luck to that! Democrats should feel a little more fortunate that
    they can get anyone elected into office there. Arkansas is still largely a red state, Democrats that win there are only doing so through avoiding certain issues because they know their electorate better than most of us and it also shows just how diverse
    Democrats really are. We should use that to our advantage. Instead, we’re all supposed to fit neatly into the same mold, that isn’t realistic nor helpful in trying to build

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