RNC chairman: Arkansas ‘ground zero’ in battle for control of Senate


LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas is “ground zero” in the battle to win a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said here Tuesday.

Priebus discussed the importance of the race to the RNC during a talk to volunteers at one of the Arkansas offices of Victory 365, the committee’s effort to mobilize volunteers in communities across the country. He was joined by several Republican candidates, including U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, who is challenging the re-election bid of U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, the only Democratic member of Arkansas’ congressional delegation.

Outside groups have already spent millions of dollars on both sides of the Senate race, one of the most closely watched races in the nation. Republicans need a net gain of six seats to win a majority and have targeted Pryor for defeat.

With Cotton’s help, Democrats are “going to lose their majority in the United States Senate,” Priebus said.

He told the volunteers the RNC its increasing its activity in the state.

“We’re trying to turn the national party into a full-time national operation that doesn’t just show up every four years, five months before an election,” he said. “Because quite frankly that’s what’s happened at the national level. We’ve become a U-Haul trailer of cash for a presidential nominee that shows up once in a while. The difference you’re seeing in this midterm is a national party working with state parties and county parties, with candidates on a year-round basis to make a difference.”

Priebus said Victory 365 is “our plan to be everywhere all the time, non-stop: Ground game, data and being obsessed with the mechanics.”

“Some entity out there on our side has to be obsessed over the things that some people might find to be pretty boring,” he said. “But I happen to believe that races are won and lost on the ground. They’re won and lost now with data and infrastructure and technology.”

Priebus noted that Republicans have made significant gains in Arkansas in recent elections. In 2012, the GOP won control of the state House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.

“You’re getting used to winning, but you’re going to get used to it a little bit more in November,” Priebus said.

Also joining Priebus were state GOP Chairman Doyle Webb; Leslie Rutledge, who is running against Democratic state Rep. Nate Steel and Libertarian Party candidate Aaron Scott Cash for attorney general; and state Rep. Bruce Westerman, who is running against Democrat James Lee Witt and Libertarian Party candidate Ken Hamilton for the 4th District congressional seat.