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April 09, 2013 12:56 PM Bullseye on Pryor

By Ed Kilgore

In counterpoint to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of Republican vulnerabilities in gubernatorial elections, Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg offers an early take on the 2014 Senate landscape and sees mostly clear skies for GOP incumbents, along with a few opportunities for pickups. After narrowing the list of truly vulnerable Democrats down to Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor, Rothenberg notices (for the first time, apparently, which I find amusing considering how long he’s been doing election handicapping) that there are a whole lot more African-Americans in Louisiana than in Arkansas. So he awards Pryor the “most vulnerable Senator” prize.

Then there’s this interesting conclusion:

Either the 4th District’s Cotton or 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack seems to be the mostly likely Republican nominee against Pryor, and GOP strategists seem confident that either one can and will beat the senator. Democrats, on the other hand, are clearly worried about both Pryor and Landrieu.
It’s a close call on who is more vulnerable, but I’d probably pick Pryor, especially if Cotton runs. The Harvard-educated Iraq veteran who worked for McKinsey would be an especially difficult opponent for Pryor, and the Democratic base in Arkansas appears to be evaporating quickly.

Regular readers may recall that in January I wrote about Tom Cotton after he was profiled in Politico, citing him as an example of the kind of conservative who’s entirely happy about the idea of his constituents suffering if it means the demise of the Welfare State:

Cotton is emblematic of a brand of movement conservatism that has slowly taken over the Republican Party after decades of struggle; saw its ultimate validation in the 2010 midterm elections; and isn’t about to loosen its grip on its trophy of ideological war. Its shock troops believe in a rigid, permanent model of governance that is impervious not only to Washington power games and deal-making, but to the social and economic consequences of its preferred policies and indeed to all contrary empirical evidence. Most of them believe the destruction of the Welfare State is the only path consistent with patriotism and constitutional government; many (I don’t know enough about Cotton to know if he shares this particular motivation) believe their ideology reflects obedience to the eternal laws of Almighty God.

Cotton is also a good example of the kind of Republican candidate whose resume appeal is supposed to neutralize or more than neutralize his zaniness—a sort of microcosm of the common conservative vision of the GOP as a dazzling array of “attractive” candidates who all happen to be living in the nineteenth century and/or harboring fevered conspiracy theories. The packaging is certainly all Stu Rothenberg has noticed.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Steven on April 09, 2013 4:17 PM:

    Clinton said it very well at the DNC 2012

    ... and they’re going to keep every commitment they’ve made. We just got to make sure the American people know what those commitments are ...

    This tactic can work very well against a person like Cotton.

    stefan