ENG - Mark Lunsford Pryor (born January 10, 1963) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Arkansas, serving since 2003. A member of the Democratic Party, he holds the same seat in the U.S. Senate once held by his father, David Pryor, from 1979 to 1997.
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%. Tom Formicola, decided not to run. His only announced opponent was Green candidate Rebekah Kennedy whom he defeated 80% to 20%.
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, which is unusual for a freshman Senator. The only Republican to express interest in the race, health care executive
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.
Pryor places great emphasis on constituent service. He has a sign on his desk that reads "Arkansas comes first," as his father did when he held the seat.
On May 23, 2005, Pryor was one of the 14 senators who forged a compromise on the Democrats' use of the judicial filibuster. U.S. Supreme Court, citing his concerns over Alito's views on the president's powers during wartime.
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 retain 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
On September 28, 2006, Pryor was one of 12 Senate Democrats who voted to adopt S.3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006. He voted against the flag burning amendment in June 2006, and against repeal of the Federal Inheritance/Estate Tax.
On March 15, 2007, Pryor was one of 2 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.
Pryor was one of six Democrats to vote for the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General. In 2007, however, he called for Gonzales to resign due to the firing of eight federal prosecutors. One of the attorneys fired was Bud Cummins, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Pryor and his Senate colleague, Blanche Lincoln, both say that Gonzales promised Cummins' replacement, Tim Griffin, would go before the Senate for confirmation. In truth, Gonzales used a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act that allowed Griffin to bypass Senate confirmation.
Pryor and Lincoln were very upset when the details of Griffin's appointment came to light.
In an angry speech before the Senate on March 15, Pryor said that Gonzales had "broken faith" with him regarding the Cummins affair, and therefore had lost his confidence. "When the Attorney General lies to a United States Senator," Pryor said, "I think it's time for that Attorney General to go."
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.
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.
Pryor opposes bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States for trial.