Stop the presses. Front-page story in D-G today (pay wall) says U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor will have political opposition in 2014.
Maybe a “110 percent chance,” says Republican Chair Doyle Webb, demonstrating a command of arithmetic comparable to his party’s recent winning presidential campaign. (What? You say Mitt Romney didn’t win? That’s not true. And it’s not just Karl Rove who believes that. Read this.)
I’m not poking fun at the newspaper’s subject matter, not much anyway. Pryor himself has been gearing up for a strong Republican opponent for months. Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin is viewed as the most likely, but he’s not the certain nominee. Other strong Republican figures – particularly congressional candidates who scored bigger victories in their districts than Griffin did (42 percent of the vote in his home county?) – haven’t ruled out a race.
The lying has already begun.
Griffin, seen by many as the most likely future Pryor opponent, said he considers Pryor a friend.
“He’s my neighbor here in Little Rock. I have a great relationship with Sen. Pryor. Now, I disagree with him on a whole host of issues,” Griffin said.
The mutual detestation couldn’t be greater between those camps and Griffin has famously refused meaningful participation on some local projects because he didn’t want to be seen as being on the side of “earmarks,” even for, say, vital water projects. Pryor was the key player in Griffin being forced out of a U.S. attorney’s job that he won through a perversion of the Justice Department by the Bush White House. Forgive and forget? Not likely.
And as for a Pryor’ staffer’s comment that he’s more concerned with pressing legislative issues? Perhaps so, but he’s also got an organization working feverishly to raise money and develop talking points about potential opponents. It will be a high-dollar and ultimately ugly race.
A “ripe” opportunity for Republicans? Perhaps. But 2012 also was going to be ripe for Republican gains in the U.S. Senate and House. If you still believe in arithmetic, it didn’t happen in either case.
PS – Playing the media critic: Must everyone join Politico’s horserace politics obsession, in which the moment an election is decided we crank up the horse race commentary for the next cycle before the vote has even been certified? More pressing today is a subject mentioned mostly in passing in the D-G article – the fiscal cliff and the indications that Republicans in Arkansas aren’t backing away from Ryan budget devotion that brings us to this cliff. I’d like to see more on the many non-partisan studies on the negligible impact of tax breaks for the wealthy on the economy, the cost of more defense spending and the other elements of this debate on which Pryor and his potential challengers in Congress have markedly different records.