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
Incumbent
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
1991–1995
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.)
Occupation Retired Attorney
Politician
Religion Southern Baptist
Signature
Website www.pryor.senate.gov

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.

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.[1][2] 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%.[3] 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.[4] He was also delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Elections[edit]

2002

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. Hutchinson's popularity was considerably dragged down by the fact that he had divorced his wife of 29 years and married a congressional aide, but Pryor didn't make an issue of it during the campaign. Pryor defeated Hutchinson 54% to 46%. He was the only Democratic candidate for the Senate to defeat a Republican incumbent in that election cycle.

2008

He faced no major-party opposition in 2008, which is unusual for a freshman Senator. There had been speculation that former Governor Mike Huckabee would run against Pryor if his presidential bid were unsuccessful, but on March 8, Huckabee said he wouldn't contest the race.[5] The only Republican to express interest in the race, health care executive Tom Formicola, decided not to run.[6] His only announced opponent was Green candidate Rebekah Kennedy whom he defeated 80% to 20%.

2014

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.[7] Pryor later said he was not attacking Cotton’s military service, but his accomplishments in the House.[8]

Tenure[edit]

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 (elected in the same year as Pryor). He was succeeded by Michael Bennet (who himself held it for only five days before the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand). He also has the distinction of being the oldest Senator (at 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 (D-NY), who served as First Lady of Arkansas for 12 years, for the President of the United States. Pryor noted the ability and competence of Clinton as a Senator and former U.S. First Lady.[9]

Fiscal policy

In June 2006, Pryor voted against repeal of the federal estate tax.[10] 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.[11][12]

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.[13][14]

Health care

Pryor voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[15] but later voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[16]

Foreign policy

Pryor opposes bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States for trial.[17]

On September 28, 2006, Pryor was one of 12 Senate Democrats who voted to adopt S.3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006.[18] 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.[19]

Social policy

Pryor has expressed opposition to abortion on demand, and voted in favor of the partial birth abortion ban. 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.[20]

In 2013, Pryor voted against a measure that would have required background checks for all firearms purchases.[21]

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. He did, however, vote against the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, citing his concerns over Alito's views on the president's powers during wartime.

On December 18, 2010, Pryor voted in favor of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.[22][23]

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.[24] 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.[25][26][27] Pryor opposed the bill.[26] Pryor was up for election in 2014 and was at that time considered "the Senate's most vulnerable incumbent."[28]

Fundraising

Since 2009, Pryor's top three donors have been lawyers ($227,480), lobbyists ($134,254) and retirees ($103,050).[29]

Legislation sponsored[edit]

Pryor introduced the Drought Information Act of 2013 (S. 376; 113th Congress) on February 25, 2013.[30] The bill that would authorize funding for the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) through 2018.[31] The NIDIS is "charged with providing timely information to prevent drought and extreme weather damage."[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] The Congressional Budget Office estimated that enacting S. 1963 would increase direct spending by $6.813 billion.[34]

Committee assignments[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Pryor lives in Little Rock and has a son and a daughter, Adams and Porter.[35] He was married to Jill Pryor from July 4, 1992 until their divorce in July 2012 at Pulaski County Court.[36][37]

In 1996, Pryor was diagnosed with clear-cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, in his left leg.[38] 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.[39]

Religious views[edit]

Pryor is Christian.[40] He was featured in the 2008 Bill Maher documentary Religulous, in which he tells Maher that he could believe in Young Earth creationism,[41] yet he also sees evolution as a feasible idea.[42] 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".[43]

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."[44]

Electoral history[edit]

2008[edit]

United States Senate election in Arkansas, 2008[45]
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

2002[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Famous Central Graduates- Mark Pryor
  2. ^ Class of '81 - Bethesda Magazine - March-April 2010 - Bethesda, MD
  3. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=261757
  4. ^ Our Campaigns - AR Attorney General Race - Nov 03, 1998
  5. ^ Huckabee says he won't run against Pryor, Nasdaq.com
  6. ^ Mark Pryor uncontested for second term in U.S. Senate. KTHV Little Rock, 2008-03-10
  7. ^ Lauer, Claudia (March 6, 2014). "Pryor says Cotton exudes vet ‘entitlement,’ riling GOP". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ Joseph, Cameron (April 26, 2014). "Pryor explains ‘sense of entitlement’ comments". The Hill. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ HillaryClinton.com - Media Release
  10. ^ "Democrats halt move to kill off death tax". Washington Times. 8 June 2006. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Pryor, Boozman bring common sense to debate over estate taxes
  12. ^ "Democratic senators take issue with the estate tax". Washington Post. 12-11-2012. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Davis, Susan (April 16, 2012). "Senate Fails to advance Buffett rule". USA Today. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ Senate official website. Accesseed April 17, 2012.
  15. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  16. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  17. ^ "Lincoln, Pryor back bid to block funding to hold terror suspects in U.S. | Arkansas News". Arkansasnews.com. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  18. ^ U.S. Senate roll call votes, 109th Congress http://senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00259
  19. ^ Toner, Robin (March 15, 2007). "Senate Rejects Measure for Iraq Pullout". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-15. 
  20. ^ Mark Pryor on Abortion
  21. ^ Mark Pryor's Political Summary - Project Vote Smart
  22. ^ U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  23. ^ "Senate Vote 281 - Repeals ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ "S. 1737 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  25. ^ Sink, Justin (2 April 2014). "Obama: Congress has 'clear choice' on minimum wage". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  26. ^ a b Bolton, Alexander (8 April 2014). "Reid punts on minimum-wage hike". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  27. ^ Bolton, Alexander (4 April 2014). "Centrist Republicans cool to minimum wage hike compromise". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  28. ^ Bolton, Alexander (1 April 2014). "Reid: Minimum wage vote may slip". The Hill. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  29. ^ Mark Pryor: Campaign Finance/Money - Summary - Career. Center for Responsive Politics, August 1, 2013
  30. ^ "S. 376 - All Actions". United States Congress. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Cox, Ramsey (3 February 2014). "Senate passes bill funding drought information program". The Hill. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  32. ^ "S. 1963 - All Actions". United States Congression. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  33. ^ Ramsey Cox; Jeremy Herb (10 February 2014). "Senate starts consideration of veterans' pension cuts". The Hill. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  34. ^ "S. 1963 - CBO". Congressional Budget Office. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  35. ^ http://www.pryor.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/aboutmark
  36. ^ Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, wife file for divorce - FOX16.com
  37. ^ Sen. Mark Pryor announces divorce plans | Arkansas Blog | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art
  38. ^ http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/mark-pryor-lone-arkansas-democrat-hangs-on-95650.html Lone Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor hangs on
  39. ^ Victoria Advocate | Arkansas senator: Battle with cancer was humbling
  40. ^ The religion of Mark Pryor, Senator from Arkansas
  41. ^ Patrick Goldstein (2008-08-07). "Bill Maher hates your (fill in the blank) religion". The Big Picture (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  42. ^ "Larry King: Bill Maher On His Movie Religulous". YouTube. August 19, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2010. 
  43. ^ Religulous (2008).
  44. ^ "Behind the closed doors on C Street.". Las Vegas Sun (July 19, 2009). Retrieved on July 26, 2009.
  45. ^ "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
2003–present
Served alongside: Blanche Lincoln, John Boozman
Incumbent
Legal offices
Preceded by
Winston Bryant
Attorney General of Arkansas
1999–2003
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
R-Texas
United States Senators by seniority
37th
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