Michael Cook: Honoring David And Barbara Pryor

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 241 views 

Last November’s election results not only marked the end of Democratic dominance in Arkansas politics, but it also highlighted the end of what could be called “the Pryor era.”

From 1966 to 2014, with the exception of just four years, a Pryor held a major office in Arkansas and wielded significant influence over much of the state’s politics. With U.S. Senator Mark Pryor’s defeat last year, the Pryor era officially came to an end.

U.S. Senator David Pryor is probably one of the only Arkansas politicians to hold just about every office worth having: State Representative, Congressman, Governor, and U.S. Senator.

In no small part, this was due to his genuine humbleness, ability to connect with voters one-one-one and first-rate oratorical skills. David Pryor is one of only two politicians who, while hearing their speeches, I honestly hoped they would speak longer than they did. Dale Bumpers was the other.

David Pryor has received nearly every accolade a former elected office-holder could receive, but the Democratic Party of Arkansas is giving him one more.

On Thursday, April 23, the DPA is honoring David Pryor, along with former first lady Barbara Pryor, with a dinner to celebrate their lifetime of achievements. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in her first trip to Arkansas, is the special guest of the evening. The dinner is at the Albert Pike Hotel in downtown Little Rock and those interested can contact DPA HQ for tickets.

When considering David Pryor’s impressive political career, a story the former U.S. Senator told during a 2001 speech comes to mind and it has stuck with me for the past 14 years. The following story also strikes a poignant chord in light of this week’s passing of former Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt, a political giant in his own right.

A reporter once went to interview retired baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The Hall of Famer gave the eager journalist a tour of the home and showed him the room where all the trophies of DiMaggio’s storied baseball career were kept.

The reporter noticed DiMaggio seemed forlorn in a room full of plaques, trophies and accolades that many could only dream to acquire. The reporter asked, “Joe, if you don’t mind me asking, it’s overwhelming to see all of these amazing awards, but yet you seem sad to even be in this room. Why is that?”

The baseball legend looked at the cub reporter and softly replied, “I’d give all this stuff up for just one more turn at bat.”

Like many Arkansans, I often wish David Pryor would get just one more turn at bat.