While you were enjoying time with your family around the fireplace on the first weekend of May, Senator Mark Pryor was working hard for YOU! In fact, on the new political talk show Capitol View yesterday, Rep. Darrin Williams (former chief of staff for Pryor) said, “Arkansas always comes first with Mark.” And when asked about Pryor’s recent stances on gun issues — which clearly conflict with previous stances — Williams said he thinks Pryor stands “with Arkansans.”
For once, I can emphatically agree with Rep. Williams: Mark Pryor has agreed with just about every Arkansan on gun control and the 2nd Amendment at some point in his political career. The real question is, “Who does Mark Pryor agree with today?”
Just a few weeks ago, Pryor voted against a motion to end debate on a background checks bill that was making its way through the Senate. Many viewed this as essentially a vote against the bill: if the motion had failed, which it did not, the bill would not have been able to proceed to the floor of the full Senate for a vote. The difficulty for Mark Pryor is that in 2004, he voted for the Feinstein assault weapons ban and supported the Brady bill in 2002, both anti-2nd Amendment bills. He also recently appeared on a local newscast and maintained a straight face while saying he was against the assault weapons ban and “I haven’t changed.”
Since his “controversial” vote against background checks, Pryor has been under immense pressure from anti-gun lobbies, coming under fire from the Obama campaign group Organizing For Action as well as others. From The Los Angeles Times:
Jon Carson, executive director of Organizing for Action, told the Los Angeles Times / Tribune Washington Bureau on Thursday that the group will train its resources against the 45 senators who opposed the legislation, including…Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
“What is happening right now is the reason that OFA needs to be here: to harness the energy and determination of people,” Carson said. “I think everyone would agree that the American people are on our side on this…. We need to show that the 90% on our side have staying power.”
That was several weeks ago. Since that time, more pressure has mounted. In fact, a group funded by
Nanny Mike Bloomberg called “Mayors Against Illegal Guns & Sodas” brought in the father of a Newtown, CT victim to speak with Senator Pryor last Thursday. Mark Glaze is executive director of that group, and he indicated to the Associated Press that they’re far from finished with the Arkansas Senator:
Glaze said the group also planned to soon launch radio ads and a direct mail effort in Arkansas, with a focus on African-American voters — who tend to favor stronger background check measures — but said the group’s immediate focus is on getting Pryor to reconsider his position on background checks.
“It is hard for me to imagine a combination of constituencies that would get Mark Pryor over the finish line if he doesn’t perform exceptionally well in the African American community,” Glaze said.
How interesting then that on Friday, Senator Pryor told a group gathered at the Delta Caucus Conference that he’s open to reconsidering his position on background checks:
Look, I don’t know if this is going to happen but there’s some discussion of taking best part of (the) Grassley (proposal) and Manchin-Toomey and put something together. [That] may happen. If someone wants to put something together I will look at it and I’ll make a judgement based on what they put together.
It’s increasingly astonishing to me the speed with which Mark Pryor can turn on a dime, advocating both for and against gun control almost simultaneously. Is he still “standing with Arkansans” and “putting Arkansas first?” Does he still agree with Arkansans on gun control or is he listening to liberal interest groups like OFA and MAIG? I suppose the answers to those questions depend on what day of the week it is and to what audience Senator Pryor is speaking. The only thing we can say for sure is that, on any given day, only Mark Pryor knows where he stands.