Freshman Republican congressman Tom Cotton may have only served in Congress for a few months, but conservative groups are already considering him for a 2014 Senate run in his native Arkansas against vulnerable Democrat Mark Pryor. The Washington Post reports on a new poll showing Cotton, an Army veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, leading Pryor by eight points:
Cotton is an Iraq War veteran and conservative darling whose 2012 House bid was backed by the anti-tax Club For Growth, one of two conservative groups that commissioned polling on the race that was released Tuesday. The polling data, which Basswood Research collected, show Cotton leading Pryor, 43 percent to 35 percent. Cotton hasn’t ruled out a Senate run, and recently said he probably won’t come to a decision for some time.
The release of the polling data comes three weeks after the Club went up on the air with six-figure TV ad buy slamming Pryor’s record. The ad made no mention of Cotton, but it was a notable purchase coming so early in the cycle.
“As I’ve said before, the Club for Growth PAC would strongly consider supporting Congressman Cotton if he chose to try and take his free-market principles to the United States Senate, but as far as we know he hasn’t made a decision yet,” Club For Growth spokesman Barney Keller said, repeating his stance after the launch of the anti-Pryor ad.
Cotton told the Post at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week that he doesn't anticipate thinking about his next political move "for many months." But Cotton has been raising his own profile lately as a defender of effective American military power both at CPAC and on the Sunday talk shows. Democrats, too, have already demonstrated they are considering the possibility of a Cotton Senate run.
At CPAC, THE WEEKLY STANDARD spoke with Arkansas's Republican senator, John Boozman, about the 2014 race and which Republican would be best to take on Pryor. Boozman mentioned both Cotton and another House member, Steve Womack, saying he has spoken "just briefly" to both of them about their political futures.
"[Cotton is] a very bright guy, well-educated, doing a great job," Boozman said. "But the Pryor name is still pretty good in Arkansas. It will be a tough race."