WASHINGTON — The Arkansas U.S. Senate campaign camps clashed Thursday over fundraising sojourns Tom Cotton and Mark Pryor have made to Southern California.
The latest attacks were launched after The Nation reported that Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, spent the weekend at at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort attending a secretive mega-donor conference organized by Charles and David Koch. It noted that a leaked agenda showed Cotton was to have joined a group of top donors for a post-golf lunch discussion on Saturday.
The Pryor campaign issued a press release on Thursday slamming Cotton for spending time with deep-pocket conservatives in California rather than attending the Pink Tomato Festival in Warren.
“The festival, held in the heart of Cotton’s congressional district, is easily the biggest and most important event of the year for Bradley County,” wrote the Pryor campaign. “This is just the latest, but easily the most jarring, example of Cotton’s political ambition leading him to choose his billionaire backers over the people of Arkansas.”
The Cotton campaign countered charging that Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., has gone out to Hollywood to raise funds for his campaign and is supporting President Obama’s agenda as he raises funds for attacks on Cotton from out-of-state Democratic PACs.
“Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t remember this level of inquiry when the Pryor campaign was flying out to Hollywood to fundraise with millionaire movie executives,” said David Ray, communications director for the Cotton campaign.
In March Pryor attended a fundraising dinner at the home of Hollywood movie executive Alan Horn and his wife, Cindy Horn, an environmental activist. The Cotton campaign issued a statement then claiming that “Hollywood leftists” were lining up with big checks because Pryor supported their causes.
The Cotton campaign said that they have run an aggressive campaign within Arkansas that belies any notion that his interests fall outside the state.
“Voters in Arkansas expect to look their candidates in the eye and hear from them where they stand on the issues important to them. That’s why Tom is constantly travelling the state and has challenged Sen. Pryor to a series of five ‘Lincoln-Douglas’ style debates,” Ray said.
Cotton has also accepted two invitations to televised debates in Arkansas and plans to accept three more, Ray said. Pryor has yet to commit to any debates.
Ray noted that Cotton has campaigned at fairs, festivals and parades across the state. He has attended sporting events, knocked on doors and stopped off at coffee shops and diners too shake hands and meet new supporters.
“Tom Cotton is pounding the shoe leather harder than any candidate in the race,” he said.
The Pryor campaign, however, noted that Cotton failed to show up to the Pink Tomato Festival that is viewed by some as the unofficial kickoff to the general campaigns now that the primaries have been decided. It is also in Cotton’s congressional district.
Most candidates for statewide office attended the event – including Pryor, who rode in the parade.
David King, director of the Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday that elected officials are invited to attend the festival.
Cotton had initially accepted the invitation but a few days in advance notified them that he would not attend.
Asked whether it made a difference if candidates miss the event, King — a registered Democrat — said it would.
“For this area, it is a big deal,” King said.