Rep. Tom Cotton opposes establishing a path to legal status for immigrants illegally until U.S. borders are more secure and visa laws more strictly enforced.(Photo: Richard Rasmussen, AP)
DARDANELLE, Ark. (AP/KTHV) - First-term Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton said he's challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.
Cotton's announcement sets up what's expected to be one of the most expensive and heated U.S. Senate races in the country next year.
He made his run official in front of supporters in his hometown of Dardanelle. He's the first Republican to announce a bid to unseat the state's two-term Democratic senator next year.
The 36-year-old Cotton is a former management consultant who served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was elected in November to represent Arkansas' 4th Congressional District, which stretches across the western and southern parts of the state.
Pryor criticized Cotton last week, accusing him of alienating students, farmers and women since joining Congress in January.
Among friends and family Congressman Tom Cotton let the country know what many already anticipated, he'll challenge Senator Mark Pryor. The Army vet from Dardanelle wasted no time linking Pryor to the Obama administration.
"To vote for a trillion dollar stimulus plan that didn't create any lasting jobs in Arkansas or around the country to me that's the extreme position is to support Barack Obama in lock step," said Cotton.
Pryor calls Cotton an extremist, who won't accomplish anything across the aisle.
"I do think I'm going to have an opponent here who's out of touch with Arkansas. He recently voted against farm bill, which is Arkansas' number one industry. He voted against the student loans provision which was bipartisan," said Pryor.
College Student Nathan Coulter hasn't decided who he's voting for yet and wanted to hear Cotton's stance on student aide after the congressman voted against lowering interest rates on the federal Stafford loan.
"I think our generation is coming into swing and coming into play and people who are running for office are realizing our generation is a big loading block that's important to getting elected," said Coulter.
Cotton says he's willing to make tough decisions to get the nation's finances back in order.
"Our out of control spending is a problem with both parties, but it has gotten worse over the last four years, record high deficits over Barack Obama's presidency," said Cotton.
Pryor says Cotton is out of touch with Arkansans and that shows with his voting record.
"And they know what they get with me they get someone who reads the bill and listens to the folks back home and I think that's what people want," said Pryor.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)