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Mark Pryor

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Subject: United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2014, United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2002, United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2008, Tom Cotton, Politics and government of Arkansas
Collection: 1963 Births, American Christians, American Protestants, Arkansas Attorneys General, Arkansas Democrats, Arkansas Lawyers, Democratic Party United States Senators, Dismissal of United States Attorneys Controversy, Living People, Members of the Arkansas House of Representatives, People from Little Rock, Arkansas, Southern Baptists, United States Senators from Arkansas, University of Arkansas Alumni, University of Arkansas People
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Mark Pryor

Mark Pryor
United States Senator
from Arkansas
In office
January 3, 2003 – January 3, 2015
Preceded by Tim Hutchinson
Succeeded by Tom Cotton
53rd Attorney General of Arkansas
In office
January 12, 1999 – January 3, 2003
Governor Mike Huckabee
Preceded by Winston Bryant
Succeeded by Mike Beebe
Member of the Arkansas House of Representatives
from the 57th district
In office
January 1991 – January 1995
Preceded by ???
Succeeded by Lisa Ferrell
Personal details
Born Mark Lunsford Pryor
(1963-01-10) January 10, 1963
Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jill Pryor (Divorced)
Children Adams
Alma mater University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Religion Southern Baptist
Website Senate website

Mark Lunsford Pryor (born January 10, 1963) is an American politician who served as a United States Senator from Arkansas from 2003 to 2015. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and he was Attorney General of Arkansas from 1999 to 2003.

Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Pryor is the son of former Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator David Pryor. He received his bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He worked in private practice for several years until being elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 1990. He was elected the state Attorney General in 1998. Pryor announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2001, running for the same Senate seat his father had held from 1979 to 1997. He was elected with 54 percent of the vote.

He was re-elected with no Republican opposition in 2008. During the 112th Congress he served as the chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. Pryor ran for re-election in 2014, but lost to Representative Tom Cotton.[1]


  • Early life, education, and early political career 1
  • U.S. Senate 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
      • Fiscal policy 2.2.1
      • Estate tax 2.2.2
      • Health care 2.2.3
      • Foreign policy 2.2.4
      • Social policy 2.2.5
      • Gun policy 2.2.6
      • Judicial nominees 2.2.7
    • Legislation sponsored 2.3
    • Committee assignments 2.4
  • Post-Senate career 3
  • Personal life 4
    • Religious views 4.1
  • Electoral history 5
    • U.S. Senator 5.1
      • 2014 5.1.1
    • 2008 5.2
    • 2002 5.3
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life, education, and early political career

Pryor was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to the former state First Lady Barbara Jean Lunsford and former Governor and U.S. Senator David Hampton Pryor. He attended Little Rock Central High School and Walt Whitman High School in Maryland, graduating in 1981.[2][3] He graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the university's law school in 1988. During college, he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Prior to entering politics, Pryor worked as a private practice attorney. He was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995. In 1994, he ran for Arkansas Attorney General, challenging incumbent Winston Bryant in the Democratic primary. Pryor lost 58%-42%.[4] In 1998, he ran for the same position again and became the Democratic Party nominee. He defeated Republican nominee Betty Dicky, the Redfield City Attorney, 59%-41%. He won all but four counties in the state: Benton, Boone, Marion, and Baxter.[5] He was also delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

U.S. Senate

Pryor was recognized for providing a high level of constituent service, and he helped to secure millions of dollars in highway funds for the state. Pryor was also a committed advocate of the state’s military families; he guided the SACRIFICE Act to passage, thus providing families of those injured in combat more timely and reliable medical care. [6]



In late 2001, Pryor announced his candidacy for the Senate seat held by Tim Hutchinson, who six years earlier had become the first Arkansas Republican to serve in that body since Reconstruction. The seat had been held by his father David Pryor (also a former Arkansas governor), who actively campaigned for his son. Pryor defeated Hutchinson 54% to 46% and was the only Democratic candidate for the Senate to defeat a Republican incumbent in that election cycle.


Pryor won re-election in 2008 without a Republican opponent. There had been speculation that former Governor Mike Huckabee would run against Pryor if his presidential bid was unsuccessful, but on March 8, Huckabee said he would not contest the race.[7] The only Republican to express interest in the race, health care executive Tom Formicola, decided not to run.[8] Pryor's only announced opponent was Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy, whom he defeated 80% to 20%.


Pryor ran for re-election to a third term in 2014, against Republican U.S. House Rep. Tom Cotton.

In March 2014, during an MSNBC news segment regarding the Senate race, Pryor said that Cotton gave off a "sense of entitlement" to a seat in the Senate due to his service in the military.[9] Pryor later said he was not attacking Cotton’s military service, but his perceived lack of accomplishments in the House: "But the point remains that he's been in the House now for a little over a year, he hadn't passed any legislation, there's no one thing he's done for Arkansas."[10] called two ads aired by Pryor's 2014 Senate campaign misleading in their criticisms of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, supported by his opponent.[11]


Somewhat atypically, he was, for 19 days in January 2009, the Baby of the Senate, despite not having previously held that distinction during his first term, because of the defeat of the younger John E. Sununu. Pryor was the oldest Senator (at age 45) to become "Baby of the Senate."

In June 2007, before the annual Arkansas Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner, Pryor announced his endorsement of his colleague Sen. Hillary Clinton for the President of the United States.[12]

In 2013, Pryor voted with President Obama 90% of the time.[13]

Since 2009, Pryor's top three donors have been lawyers ($1,131,431), leadership PACs ($429,149), and lobbyists ($323,769).[14]

Fiscal policy

On February 13, 2009, Pryor voted to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

On April 16, 2012, Pryor was the only Democratic Senator to vote against the "Buffett Rule", which was defeated 51 voting in favor to 45 voting against cloture of the Filibuster.[15][16]

In April 2014, the United States Senate debated the Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737; 113th Congress). The bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) to increase the federal minimum wage for employees to $10.10 per hour over the course of a two-year period.[17] The bill was strongly supported by President Barack Obama and many of the Democratic Senators, but strongly opposed by Republicans in the Senate and House.[18][19][20] Pryor opposed the bill.[19] Pryor was up for election in 2014 and was at that time considered "the Senate's most vulnerable incumbent."[21]

Estate tax

In June 2006, Pryor voted against repeal of the federal estate tax (also known as the "death tax").[22] In 2013, Pryor and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) were credited by Arkansas Farm Bureau president Randy Veach for their opposition to President Obama's plan to raise the estate tax. Pryor co-sponsored a bill that would implement a one-year extension on current estate tax rates.[23][24] The bill did not pass. In 2008 Pryor voted against expanding the pool of people exempt from the death tax.[25]

Health care

Pryor voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (usually called "Obamacare") in December 2009,[26] and later voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[27]

Pryor has said that he would vote for Obamacare again.[28][29]

Foreign policy

Pryor opposes bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States for trial.[30]

On September 28, 2006, Pryor was one of 12 Senate Democrats who voted to adopt S.3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006.[31] He voted against the flag burning amendment in June 2006.

On March 15, 2007, Pryor was one of two Democratic Senators to vote against a resolution aimed at withdrawing most American combat troops from Iraq in 2008. The vote, requiring 60 votes to pass, was 50 to 48 against.[32]

Social policy

In 2003, Pryor voted for a federal ban on partial-birth abortion.[33] He has voted in favor of the expansion of embryonic stem cell research. He voted against restricting UN funding for population control policies, prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion, and barring Health and Human Services grants to organizations that perform abortions.[34]

On December 18, 2010, Pryor voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[35][36]

Gun policy

In 2004 Pryor voted to extend the "Assault Weapons Ban".[37][38]

In 2013, Pryor voted against a measure that would have required background checks for all firearms purchases.[39]

In March 2013, Pryor cosponsored a bill that would flag individuals attempting to buy guns who have used an insanity defense, were ruled dangerous by a court, or had been committed by a court to mental health treatment. It did not address the gun show loophole. The bill has not been passed into law.[40][41]

Judicial nominees

On May 23, 2005, Pryor was one of the Bush judicial nominee only in an "extraordinary circumstance." The threat of a filibuster removed, Republicans were able to force cloture on the three most conservative Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor-no relation), who subsequently passed a vote by the full Republican-controlled Senate.[42] He did, however, vote against the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.[43]

Legislation sponsored

Pryor introduced the Drought Information Act of 2013 (S. 376; 113th Congress) on February 25, 2013.[44] The bill that would authorize funding for the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) through 2018.[45] The NIDIS is "charged with providing timely information to prevent drought and extreme weather damage."[45] The bill passed the United States Senate on February 3, 2014.

Pryor introduced the bill "To repeal section 403 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013" on January 27, 2014.[46] The bill would repeal the provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that would reduce the amount of the annual cost of living increase to non-disabled military veterans under age 62.[47] The Congressional Budget Office estimated that enacting Pryor's bill would stop the reduction of $6.813 billion from the amount paid to veterans annually.[48]

Committee assignments

Post-Senate career

In March 2015, Pryor became a partner at the law and lobbying firm, Venable.[49]

Personal life

Pryor lives in Little Rock and has a son and a daughter, Adams and Porter.[50] He was married to Jill Pryor from July 4, 1992 until their divorce in July 2012.[51][52]

In 1996, Pryor was diagnosed with clear-cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in his left leg.[53] His treatment and rehabilitation took 15 months, and he was told by one doctor that he might have to have his leg amputated, but it was discovered early enough and the cancer was successfully removed.[54]

Religious views

Pryor is Christian.[55] He was featured in the 2008 Bill Maher documentary Religulous, in which he tells Maher that he could believe in Young Earth creationism,[56] yet he also sees evolution as a feasible idea.[57] He states at the beginning of the interview that he is an Evangelical Christian. He also states that he believes in the Rapture, and that "You don't need to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate".

According to author the Family. Sharlet quoted Pryor as stating that through the Family he "had learned that the separation of church and state was a sort of secular exaggeration" and that "Jesus did not come to bring peace. Jesus came to take over."[58]

Electoral history

U.S. Senator


Arkansas U.S. Senate Election 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Tom Cotton 476,309 56.52
Democratic Mark Pryor (Incumbent) 332,609 39.47


United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2008[59]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Pryor (incumbent) 804,678 79.53
Green Rebekah Kennedy 207,076 20.47
Total votes 1,011,754 100.00
Invalid or blank votes 75,586 n/a%
Democratic hold


Arkansas U.S. Senate Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mark Pryor 433,306 53.9
Republican Tim Hutchinson (Incumbent) 370,653 46.1


  1. ^ Ostermeier, Eric (November 4, 2014). "Mark Pryor Loss Makes US Senate History". Smart Politics. 
  2. ^ "Famous Central Graduates- Mark Pryor". 
  3. ^ "Class of '81". 
  4. ^ "Our Campaigns - AR Attorney General - D Primary Race - May 24, 1994". 
  5. ^ "Our Campaigns - AR Attorney General Race - Nov 03, 1998". 
  6. ^ Pruden, William. "Mark Lunsford Pryor (1963-)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  7. ^ [3]
  8. ^ "No GOP Opponent For Mark Pryor's Run For Second Term In U.S. Senate |". 2008-03-10. Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  9. ^ Lauer, Claudia (March 6, 2014). "Pryor says Cotton exudes vet ‘entitlement,’ riling GOP". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ Joseph, Cameron (April 26, 2014). "Pryor explains ‘sense of entitlement’ comments". The Hill. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ Robertson, Lori (25 February 2014). "Fact check: Old Medicare claims in Ark. Senate race". USA Today. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "Hillary for America". 
  13. ^ "Senate Democrats Backed Obama On Overwhelming Number of 2013 Votes, CQ Roll Call Vote Studies Show". At the Races. Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  14. ^ "Sen. Mark Pryor: Campaign Finance/Money - Summary - Senator 2014". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  15. ^ Davis, Susan (April 16, 2012). "Senate Fails to advance Buffett rule". USA Today. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  17. ^ "S. 1737 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  18. ^ Sink, Justin (2 April 2014). "Obama: Congress has 'clear choice' on minimum wage". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Bolton, Alexander (8 April 2014). "Reid punts on minimum-wage hike". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Bolton, Alexander (4 April 2014). "Centrist Republicans cool to minimum wage hike compromise". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  21. ^ Bolton, Alexander (1 April 2014). "Reid: Minimum wage vote may slip". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "Democrats halt move to kill off death tax". Washington Times. 8 June 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "Pryor, Boozman bring common sense to debate over estate taxes". 
  24. ^ "Democratic senators take issue with the estate tax". Washington Post. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "Bill Summary & Status - 110th Congress (2007 - 2008) - S.AMDT.4191 - THOMAS (Library of Congress)". 
  26. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". 27 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  28. ^ "Mark Pryor Says He Would Vote For Obamacare Again". Washington Free Beacon. 
  29. ^ Ashe Schow. "Suddenly, Mark Pryor won't say whether he would vote for Obamacare again". Washington Examiner. 
  30. ^ "Lincoln, Pryor back bid to block funding to hold terror suspects in U.S. | Arkansas News". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  31. ^ "U.S. Senate". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  32. ^ Toner, Robin (March 15, 2007). "Senate Rejects Measure for Iraq Pullout". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  33. ^ Berg, Rebecca (3 July 2014). "Dispute over religious faith sparks spat in Arkansas Senate race". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  34. ^ "Mark Pryor on Abortion". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  35. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". 27 January 2015. 
  36. ^ "'"Senate Vote 281 - Repeals ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The New York Times. 
  37. ^ "Gun laws big issue in race". Arkansas Online. 
  38. ^ "U.S. Senate: Roll Call Vote". 27 January 2015. 
  39. ^ Fournier, Ron (2013-04-23). "Mark Pryor May Soon Have A Bloomberg Problem". National Journal. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  40. ^ "Graham introduces background check bill with NRA backing". CNN. March 6, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  41. ^ "S.480 - NICS Reporting Improvement Act of 2013". Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  42. ^ Rudin, Ken (4 January 2006). "Judging Alito: The Gang of 14 Factor". NPR. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  43. ^ "Senate GOP Moves Toward Alito Confirmation". Fox News. Associated Press. 28 January 2006. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  44. ^ "S. 376 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  45. ^ a b Cox, Ramsey (3 February 2014). "Senate passes bill funding drought information program". The Hill. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  46. ^ "S. 1963 - All Actions". United States Congression. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  47. ^ Ramsey Cox; Jeremy Herb (10 February 2014). "Senate starts consideration of veterans' pension cuts". The Hill. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  48. ^ "S. 1963 - CBO" (PDF). Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  49. ^ Megan R. Wilson (27 February 2015). "Ex-Sen. Pryor heading to K Street". The Hill. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  50. ^ [4] Archived February 15, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  51. ^ "Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, wife file for divorce". Associated Press. 
  52. ^ "Sen. Mark Pryor announces divorce plans". Arkansas Times. 
  53. ^ "Lone Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor hangs on - Manu Raju". 2013-08-20. Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  54. ^ "Arkansas senator: Battle with cancer was humbling". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  55. ^ "The religion of Mark Pryor, Senator from Arkansas". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  56. ^ Patrick Goldstein (2008-08-07). "Bill Maher hates your (fill in the blank) religion". The Big Picture (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  57. ^ "Larry King: Bill Maher On His Movie Religulous".  
  58. ^ "Behind the closed doors on C Street - Las Vegas Sun News". Retrieved 2015-06-01. 
  59. ^ "U.S. Senate Statewide Results".  

Further reading

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Winston Bryant
Attorney General of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Mike Beebe
Party political offices
Preceded by
Winston Bryant
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
(Class 2)

2002, 2008, 2014
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Tim Hutchinson
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas
Served alongside: Blanche Lincoln, John Boozman
Succeeded by
Tom Cotton
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John Sununu
Youngest Member of the United States Senate
January 3, 2009 – January 22, 2009
Succeeded by
Michael Bennet
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