Meet The Freshmen is a weekly series on OUTSET in which Blake Humphrey profiles an incoming Republican Senator. This week’s profile is on Tom Cotton of Arkansas. [hr]
The odds are that if you walked in to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee office this past summer and mentioned the name Mark Pryor, you were more than likely to hear a rant about how Tom Cotton was going to trounce the 2-term incumbent Democrat. If you walked down the block to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the odds are that Arkansas was already crossed out on a map that was extremely difficult for Democrats, and that Mark Pryor was already written off.
Arkansas was primed for picking in 2014, and the Republicans knew it, and so did the Democrats. Early on in the race, the polling for one of the country’s premier Senate contests was up in the air, and polls showed the race essentially going either way. One NBC poll commissioned in May of 2014 had Pryor up 51% to Cotton’s projected 40%. In hindsight, we know that the projections were a tad bit off – Cotton trounced Pryor 56% to 39%, respectively.
So what is the result of this 18.9 million dollar fight? A newly elected, 37-year-old Republican Congressman who will assume the role of Arkansas’ Junior Senator come January 3, 2015. For many, Cotton is seen as a rising star within the Republican Party. The 37-year-old U.S. Army Captain has a lot going for him. He emerges in the Senate as a new, young leader that is poised for success in a party that is seriously searching for young blood to lead the party in to the future.
In 2010, when Cotton was first elected to represent Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District in Congress, Politico labeled him as “most likely to succeed,” and they might just be correct in that assumption. The options for Cotton are far and wide, and the newly minted Senator will have all options on the table in the future. Although Cotton is more than likely out for 2016, he could emerge as a potential candidate in 2020 or 2024.
In the meantime, the newly elected Republican Senator from Arkansas will join the new Republican Majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, back home in Arkansas, Cotton’s wife, attorney Anna Peckham, is pregnant with their first child. Cotton holds a Baccalaureate of Arts in Government from Harvard University, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2002. He is a lifelong resident of Dardanelle, Arkansas.