The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 15, 2014

South at heart of close fight to control U.S. Senate

(Continued)

A look at Senate races across the South:

—Arkansas sets up as a proxy for the tussle between the White House and House Republicans. Pryor, whose father served as governor and U.S. senator, is the last remaining Democrat in the state's Capitol Hill delegation. His Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, is a young conservative favorite.

Cotton and Pryor avoided primaries. Cotton voted with GOP leaders in October to end the partial federal government shutdown, but Democrats say they can paint him as extreme. They're already pointing to his vote against the new farm bill.

Arkansas voters, who give Obama a 35 percent approval rating, have seen a barrage of ads reminding them that Pryor was "the last vote" on the health care bill.

—In Georgia, where Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss is retiring, a May primary is almost certain to lead to a runoff.

Three congressmen — Jack Kingston and doctors Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun — each says his record proves his conservative bona fides.

Kingston, chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, tells voters what he's cut in the federal budget.

Gingrey's slogan is "Repeal or go home," and he's banking on his opposition to the president's health law carrying the day.

Broun, who once declared evolutionary theory "lies straight from the pit of hell," says his colleagues are poseurs. He tried to prove his conservative credentials by holding a drawing for an AR-15 military style rifle.

Karen Handel, a former secretary of state and commission chairman in Georgia's most populous county, says she's got the right experience for the job, and without the blemish of serving in Congress.

Former Dollar General and Reebok CEO David Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, says business experience should trump the lot of "career politicians," and he's said he's willing to finance his own race.

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