Even though U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton’s campaign for U.S. Senate started in August 2013, it was not until Saturday (Jan. 11) that Cotton took the formal step of officially opening a campaign headquarters in Little Rock.
Cotton, a Republican currently in his first term as Congressman from the Fourth District, said the opening of his headquarters was a significant event for not only him, but his team of staff and volunteers hoping to unseat U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in November.
“This is a chance for all of our volunteers to come in and meet each other because a lot of them work different shifts,” he said, adding that the opening of a campaign headquarters was the way he wanted to kick off the new year.
“And really (this event is about) kicking off the new election year because we’re going to have a volunteer-driven effort that’s going to work at the grassroots level (not just) here in Little Rock, but all around the state,” he said. “So I wanted to kind of rally the troops and give them some motivation and try to come out and recruit not just voters, but more volunteers for us.”
Prior to the headquarters’ grand opening Saturday, staff and volunteers were working remotely for the campaign, according to Cotton’s Political Director John Burris.
He went on to say that the campaign would house the campaign’s six or so staffers along with numerous volunteers who will log hours of phone calls, envelope stuffing and other tasks in order to drive turn out for Cotton.
Cotton for Senate Communications Director David Ray said having a physical headquarters was vital to victory for a campaign banking on the assistance of volunteers.
“You can’t win a large statewide race like this without a strong grassroots volunteer base of support, and that’s what Tom (Cotton) has. We’re growing it every single day and we saw some of that this morning — folks coming out on a Saturday morning to see Tom, get fired up to help spread our message for 2014,” said Ray.
The crowd of about 75 supporters included Ken Coon, a former GOP party chairman, who drove down from Mountain View for the opening and a chance to rally support for Cotton. Coon said putting in the man hours in order to see Cotton elected was driven in large part due to Cotton’s conservative voting record in Congress.
“He’s a conservative. That’s what we need,” said Coon, a 30 year member of the Republican Party. “I’m excited about the fact that we’re finally going to win every office in the state.”
While Cotton’s supporters were excited and jubilant at the Saturday morning event, the previous night’s news of Lt. Gov. Mark Darr’s upcoming resignation could not be ignored.
Darr, a Republican from Springdale, announced Friday (Jan. 10) he would resign on Feb. 1 following a scandal that saw Darr slapped with an $11,000 fine from the Ethics Commission and a Division of Legislative Audit report forwarded to the Pulaski County prosecutor for review after it was revealed that Darr had misspent more than $44,000 in both 2010 campaign and state funds.
Asked for his response to Darr’s resignation, Cotton said it was in the best interest of all involved.
“I don’t view it as a political matter. I think it was the right decision for the state and for Mark (Darr) and his family. He will be in my thoughts and my prayers,” said Cotton, who called for Darr’s resignation last week.
When asked to address the previous quarter’s fundraising figures, which will be reported to the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 31, Cotton declined to give specifics. Cotton had reported fundraising receipts of $1.073 million during the third quarter of 2013 compared to Pryor’s $1.068 million.
“Our accountants are still working on it. We’ll have it out before the deadline at the end of the month. We’re just working to try to get as much support as we can across the state,” he said.
The third quarter figures showed Pryor with cash on hand of $4.4 million, while Cotton figure stood at only $1.806 million.
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