Mark Pryor

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This article is about the United States Senator. For the British entomologist, see M.G.M. Pryor. For the Major League Baseball pitcher with a similar name, see Mark Prior.
Mark Pryor
Mark Pryor, Official Portrait, 112th Congress (2011) 1.jpg
United States Senator
from Arkansas
Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Serving with John Boozman
Preceded by Tim Hutchinson
53rd Arkansas Attorney General
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
Succeeded by Lisa Ferrell
Personal details
Born Mark Lunsford Pryor
(1963-01-10) January 10, 1963 (age 51)
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jill Pryor (Divorced)
Children Adams Pryor
Porter Pryor
Residence Little Rock, Arkansas
Alma mater University of Arkansas (B.A., J.D.)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Southern Baptist

Mark Lunsford Pryor (born January 10, 1963) is the senior United States Senator from Arkansas, serving since 2003. He is a member of the Democratic Party and former Attorney General of Arkansas.

Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Pryor is the son of former Arkansas Governor and U.S. Senator David Hampton 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. In January 2009, he briefly became the youngest member of the Senate, the oldest "youngest member" of the Senate ever to serve. During the 112th Congress he served as the chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance. Pryor is running for re-election in 2014. He is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent U.S. Senators.[1]

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Pryor was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to the former 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[edit]



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 David Pryor, who actively campaigned for his son. Pryor defeated Hutchinson 54% to 46%. He was the only Democratic candidate for the Senate to defeat a Republican incumbent in that election cycle.


He faced no major-party opposition in 2008. 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 wouldn't contest the race.[6] The only Republican to express interest in the race, health care executive Tom Formicola, decided not to run.[7] Pryor's only announced opponent was Green candidate Rebekah Kennedy, whom he defeated 80% to 20%.


Pryor is running for re-election to a third term. He is being challenged by U.S. Congressman 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.[8] 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."[9] called two ads aired by Pryor's 2014 Senate campaign misleading in their criticisms of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, supported by his opponent.[10]


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."[citation needed]

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.[11]

In 2013, Pryor voted with Obama 90% of the time.[12]

Since 2009, Pryor's top three donors have been lawyers ($1,131,431), leadership PACs ($429,149), and lobbyists ($323,769).[13]

Fiscal policy

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

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.[14][15]

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.[16] 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.[17][18][19] Pryor opposed the bill.[18] Pryor was up for election in 2014 and was at that time considered "the Senate's most vulnerable incumbent."[20]

Death tax[edit]

In June 2006, Pryor voted against repeal of the federal estate tax (also known as the "death tax").[21] 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.[22][23] The bill did not pass. In 2008 Pryor voted against expanding the pool of people exempt from the death tax.[24]

Health care

Pryor voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[25] and later voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[26]

Pryor has said that he would vote for obamacare again.[27][28]

Foreign policy

Pryor opposes bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States for trial.[29]

On September 28, 2006, Pryor was one of 12 Senate Democrats who voted to adopt S.3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006.[30] 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.[31]

Social policy

In 2003, Pryor voted for a federal ban on partial-birth abortion.[32] 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.[33]

On December 18, 2010, Pryor voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[34][35]

Gun rights

In 2004 Pryor voted to extend the "Assault Weapons Ban".[36][37]

In 2013, Pryor voted against a measure that would have required background checks for all firearms purchases.[38]

Judicial nominees

On May 23, 2005, Pryor was one of the 14 senators who forged a compromise on the Democrats' use of the judicial filibuster. This effectively ended any threat of a Democratic filibuster (and thus also avoided the Republican leadership's threatened implementation of the so-called nuclear option.) Under the agreement, the Democrats would exercise the power to filibuster a 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.[39] He did, however, vote against the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.[40]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

Pryor introduced the Drought Information Act of 2013 (S. 376; 113th Congress) on February 25, 2013.[41] The bill that would authorize funding for the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) through 2018.[42] The NIDIS is "charged with providing timely information to prevent drought and extreme weather damage."[42] 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 (S. 1963; 113th Congress)" on January 27, 2014.[43] The bill would repeal the provision of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that makes changes to the cost of living allowance to military veterans.[44] The Congressional Budget Office estimated that enacting S. 1963 would increase direct spending by $6.813 billion.[45]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Pryor lives in Little Rock and has a son and a daughter, Adams and Porter.[46] He was married to Jill Pryor from July 4, 1992 until their divorce in July 2012 at Pulaski County Court.[47][48]

In 1996, Pryor was diagnosed with clear-cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in his left leg.[49] 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.[50]

Religious views[edit]

Pryor is Christian.[51] He was featured in the 2008 Bill Maher documentary Religulous, in which he tells Maher that he could believe in Young Earth creationism,[52] yet he also sees evolution as a feasible idea.[53] 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".[54]

According to author Jeff Sharlet, Pryor is affiliated with a political organization called 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."[55]

Electoral history[edit]


United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2008[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Pryor (incumbent) 804,678 79.53%
Green Rebekah Kennedy 207,076 20.47%
Totals 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. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (11-4-2013). "How Can 2014's Most Endangered Senator Win?". Roll Call. Retrieved 29 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Famous Central Graduates- Mark Pryor
  3. ^ Class of '81 - Bethesda Magazine - March-April 2010 - Bethesda, MD
  4. ^
  5. ^ Our Campaigns - AR Attorney General Race - Nov 03, 1998
  6. ^ Huckabee says he won't run against Pryor,
  7. ^ Mark Pryor uncontested for second term in U.S. Senate. KTHV Little Rock, 2008-03-10
  8. ^ Lauer, Claudia (March 6, 2014). "Pryor says Cotton exudes vet ‘entitlement,’ riling GOP". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ Joseph, Cameron (April 26, 2014). "Pryor explains ‘sense of entitlement’ comments". The Hill. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ Robertson, Lori (25 February 2014). "Fact check: Old Medicare claims in Ark. Senate race". USA Today. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  11. ^ - Media Release
  12. ^
  13. ^ Mark Pryor: Campaign Finance/Money - Summary - Career. Center for Responsive Politics, August 1, 2013
  14. ^ Davis, Susan (April 16, 2012). "Senate Fails to advance Buffett rule". USA Today. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ Senate official website. Accesseed April 17, 2012.
  16. ^ "S. 1737 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  17. ^ Sink, Justin (2 April 2014). "Obama: Congress has 'clear choice' on minimum wage". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Bolton, Alexander (8 April 2014). "Reid punts on minimum-wage hike". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Bolton, Alexander (4 April 2014). "Centrist Republicans cool to minimum wage hike compromise". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Bolton, Alexander (1 April 2014). "Reid: Minimum wage vote may slip". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  21. ^ "Democrats halt move to kill off death tax". Washington Times. 8 June 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  22. ^ Pryor, Boozman bring common sense to debate over estate taxes
  23. ^ "Democratic senators take issue with the estate tax". Washington Post. 12-11-2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  24. ^
  25. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  26. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Lincoln, Pryor back bid to block funding to hold terror suspects in U.S. | Arkansas News". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  30. ^ U.S. Senate roll call votes, 109th Congress
  31. ^ Toner, Robin (March 15, 2007). "Senate Rejects Measure for Iraq Pullout". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  32. ^ Berg, Rebecca (7-3-2014). "Dispute over religious faith sparks spat in Arkansas Senate race". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 28 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  33. ^ Mark Pryor on Abortion
  34. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  35. ^ "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Fournier, Ron (2013-04-23). "Mark Pryor May Soon Have A Bloomberg Problem". National Journal. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  39. ^ Rudin, Ken (1-4-2006). "Judging Alito: The Gang of 14 Factor". NPR. Retrieved 28 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  40. ^ "Senate GOP Moves Toward Alito Confirmation". Fox News. Associated Press. 2006-1-28. Retrieved 28 August 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  41. ^ "S. 376 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  42. ^ a b Cox, Ramsey (3 February 2014). "Senate passes bill funding drought information program". The Hill. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  43. ^ "S. 1963 - All Actions". United States Congression. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  44. ^ Ramsey Cox; Jeremy Herb (10 February 2014). "Senate starts consideration of veterans' pension cuts". The Hill. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  45. ^ "S. 1963 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  46. ^
  47. ^ Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, wife file for divorce -
  48. ^ Sen. Mark Pryor announces divorce plans | Arkansas Blog | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art
  49. ^ Lone Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor hangs on
  50. ^ Victoria Advocate | Arkansas senator: Battle with cancer was humbling
  51. ^ The religion of Mark Pryor, Senator from Arkansas
  52. ^ Patrick Goldstein (2008-08-07). "Bill Maher hates your (fill in the blank) religion". The Big Picture (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  53. ^ "Larry King: Bill Maher On His Movie Religulous". YouTube. August 19, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  54. ^ Religulous (2008).
  55. ^ "Behind the closed doors on C Street.". Las Vegas Sun (July 19, 2009). Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
  56. ^ "U.S. Senate Statewide Results". Secretary of State of Arkansas. 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Tim Hutchinson
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas
Served alongside: Blanche Lincoln, John Boozman
Legal offices
Preceded by
Winston Bryant
Attorney General of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Mike Beebe
Party political offices
Preceded by
Winston Bryant
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Arkansas (Class 2)
2002, 2008, 2014
Succeeded by
Current nominee
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
John Cornyn
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Richard Burr
R-North Carolina
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John E. Sununu
Youngest Member of the United States Senate
January 3, 2009 – January 22, 2009
Succeeded by
Michael Bennet