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By Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)

Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, a Tea Party freshman, dispatched Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, according to Associated Press projections. The defeat of one of the rare Southern moderates remaining in the Senate underscored the sharply Republican turn the state has taken in recent years.

The heir to a political dynasty — his father is a popular former governor and senator — Pryor was elected to his second term six years ago unopposed, winning 80 percent of the vote. Since then Republicans have claimed the statehouse, the House delegation and the other Senate seat.

President Bill Clinton, an Arkansas native, was among the Democrats laboring for Pryor, who like other Democrats was pulled down by the unpopularity of President Barack Obama.

Cotton represents the southwestern corner of the state, including the small town of Hope, where Clinton was raised.

This breaking news story will be updated.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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