Republicans have attacked Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., for backing President Obama's agenda on everything from health care to immigration. Starting Saturday, you can add another issue to the anti-Obama list: judges.
A new ad from the conservative third-party group Judicial Crisis Network criticizes the Democratic incumbent from Arkansas for backing President Obama's judicial nominees, including Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. The 30-second spot will run for two weeks in the Little Rock media market, the state's largest, with an ad buy worth more than $100,000, according to officials familiar with the ad. It will be on air for two weeks.
"When Mark Pryor rubber stamps Obama's liberal judges, it hurts Arkansas," the ad intones. "Enough is enough: Tell Mark Pryor to go to work for Arkansas, not Obama."
The ad also references, although not by name, the looming battle over three of Obama's nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, saying Pryor is "helping Obama pack a key court with new liberal judges." Next week, the Senate is expected to vote whether to confirm Georgetown law professor Cornelia Pillard to one of the posts.
The GOP plans to take down Pryor, generally considered the Democrats' most vulnerable incumbent during next year's mid-term elections, by aggressively linking him to the president, who is deeply unpopular in deeply conservative Arkansas. Usually, that means mentioning Pryor's votes in favor of Obamacare or the stimulus package. Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, Pryor's expected Republican challenger, echoed the ad's argument in a statement Friday.
"Whether it's Senator Mark Pryor's deciding vote for Obamacare or his rubber-stamping of Obama's left-wing judicial nominees, one thing is clear: Senator Pryor always puts President Obama first," said Cotton spokesman David Ray.
"Another day, another false attack from Tom Cotton's Washington special interest pals trying to smear Mark Pryor because he looks after Arkansans," responded Pryor spokesman Erik Dorey.
But these spots highlights some of the senator's lesser known judicial votes, and underscore the difficulty red-state incumbents like Pryor can have trying to distance themselves from Obama. The two-term incumbent has tried to carve out an independent identity on several high-profile issues this year, like voting against expanded gun-sale background checks and voicing continued opposition to gay marriage.