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Farm bill is front and center in Arkansas Senate race

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor is hitting his GOP opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, for his vote against the farm bill

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

arkansas mugLITTLE ROCK (CFP) — Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Pryor is blasting his 2014 Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, for his vote against a farm bill that cleared the House on January 29.

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor

Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’ all-Republican House delegation to vote against the bill. Trying to make hay of that vote, Pryor appeared at the State Capitol in Little Rock on February 1, with three Natural State farmers by his side.

“You have to find common ground, and you have to do right by the people that you represent,” Pryor said. “My opponent, however, does not share that view. His is a my-way-or-the-highway approach.”

The incumbent senator accused Cotton of doing the bidding of out-of-state campaign backers who opposed the bill. But in an interview with Little Rock television station KATV, Cotton defended his vote against a measure that he said cost too much money and didn’t do enough to reform the federal Food Stamp program.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton

U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton

“All farmers know, you can’t keep on spending more money than you take in,” said Cotton, who grew up on a farm in rural Yell County.

Arkansas is a largely rural state with a large agricultural sector. Pryor is clearly hoping that Cotton’s vote will fall flat with farm voters come November.

The other three Republicans in the state’s House delegation — U.S. Reps. Steve Womack, Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford — supported the $100 billion farm bill, which passed the House by a vote of 266-151.

The farm bill now heads to the Senate, where Pryor says he will vote for it. Arkansas’s other senator, John Boozman, has indicated that he, too, will likely support the bill..

Among Cotton’s major finaicial backers is the Club for Growth, a small-government group that opposed the farm bill.

The group charaterized the farm bill as an “unholy marriage of agricultural subsidies and Food Stamps.”

“It’s a ‘Christmas Tree’ bill where there’s a gift for practically every special interest group out there with a well-connected lobbyist,” the group said.

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