Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor announced today that he’d accepted an invitation for a debate with Republican Rep. Tom Cotton in Fayetteville Oct. 14. This follows his agreement several weeks ago to appear with Cotton in a statewide televised debate on AETN.

I’ve asked the Cotton campaign if they’ll accept the Fayetteville debate. Cotton has proposed an extensive series of unmoderated free-form debates, but has also been quoted as saying he’d debate anytime.


The Fayetteville debate would be moderated by Roby Brock of Talk Business and include three reporters asking questions. It will be held at a University of Arkansas facility. I wrote incorrectly that there wasn’t a mention of broadcast. It says it will be televised, but it’s unclear by whom. The Cotton camp hasn’t responded to my question about participation. The Pryor camp hasn’t heard from them either.

The Pryor news release:


LITTLE ROCK — Today, Sen. Mark Pryor’s campaign announced it has accepted a second debate with Rep. Tom Cotton, to be held October 14 on campus at the University of Arkansas and sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. It was reported yesterday that Pryor’s campaign weeks ago accepted a debate proposal by AETN public television in Conway, where all four candidates on the U.S. Senate ballot will share a stage to discuss the issues most important to Arkansas families.

Pryor looks forward to a true head-to-head matchup in Fayetteville with Cotton, who has repeatedly emphasized his eagerness to debate anytime, anywhere and in any format.

“Arkansans deserve this debate, and I commend Congressman Cotton for his willingness to stand before voters and finally answer for his irresponsible votes to turn Medicare over to the insurance companies, eliminate affordable student loans and deny disaster relief for devastated communities at the urging of his out-of-state billionaire backers,” said Sen. Mark Pryor.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce has proposed a traditional debate format, moderated by Roby Brock of Talk Business Arkansas and includes a panel of three reporters to ask questions of the candidates.

Below is the invite from Steve Clark, President and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber:

To: Justin Brasell and Jeff Weaver, Campaign Managers
From: Steve Clark
Re: Live Debate between Congressman Cotton and Senator Mark Pryor


I want to officially invite your candidates to debate, live, on Tuesday, October 14th in Fayetteville. The debate will be held in the auditorium of the U of A Global Campus located on the northeast corner of the Fayetteville Square. The debate will be for one hour, 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

This October date is one week before early voting starts. The debate will be broadcast statewide and without commercial interruption. The auditorium holds 350 people. Attendance at the debate will be by invitation only. Besides guests from Northwest Arkansas, guests statewide will be invited to attend, including elected officials at the federal, state and local level. I have attached the rules for the debate. Please note that each campaign will get a block of seats and each candidate is being offered lodging, should they decide to stay over the evening of the debate.

The debate is sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is a 501 (c) (6 ) entity. The Fayetteville Chamber has been serving the city for 125 consecutive years. The Fayetteville Chamber is an accredited chamber with three stars. We are one of the 223 accredited chambers throughout the United States. There are approximately 7,000 chambers of commerce nationwide. The Fayetteville Chamber represents over 1200 businesses which daily employ over 25,000 people in retail and service, education, healthcare, manufacturing and governmental service. Fayetteville is located in the MSA that the U.S. Conference of Mayors recently predicted would be the third fastest growing MSA in the nation between now and 2020; only Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas and Raleigh-Durham- Cary North Carolina are expected to grow faster.

The Fayetteville Chamber’s mission is community, leadership and economic development. In particular, the Chamber puts great emphasis on leadership. We believe that without leadership neither the community or economic development will thrive. It is for these reasons that we are inviting Congressman Cotton and Senator Pryor to discuss their leadership on the subjects of transportation, education and job creation/economic development.

I hope that your candidates will agree to this debate. I submit to you both this debate will be good not only for Arkansas and its voters, but also for your campaigns.

Steve Clark, IOM


Cotton: “I Stand Ready To Debate Senator Pryor Anytime He Will Agree.” According to Tom Cotton’s campaign website, “Congressman Tom Cotton said: ‘I asked for a series of debates back in April, and I’ve accepted three televised debates so far, but Senator Pryor has refused to confirm dates and continues to hide behind spokesmen, handlers, and false television ads rather than debate the issues in this race one-on-one. Arkansas voters deserve to hear each of us discuss our vision for how best to represent our state’s citizens in the U.S. Senate over the next six years. I stand ready to debate Senator Pryor anytime he will agree, including this Friday when he is in Little Rock.’” [,7/14/14]

Cotton Spokesman Said Cotton Would Take On Pryor For Any Amount Of Time Under Any Format. According to a column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “David Ray, spokesman for the Cotton campaign, counsels me not to portray young Tom as unwilling. Quite the contrary, Ray said, Cotton would take on Pryor on Saturday for any amount of time under any format.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Opinion, 7/10/14]

Cotton Spokesman Suggested A Debate “With Tom Cotton On One Side Of The Table, Senator Pryor On The Other Side Of The Table” And Roby Brock As The Moderator. According to Tom Cotton’s campaign website, “During the exchange, which can be viewed here, Ray said: ‘This is something that the two candidates should debate, but Mark Pryor won’t debate. Public schedules show that Senator Pryor is going to be in Little Rock next Friday, July 18th. We could have a debate next Friday, July 18th, with Tom Cotton on one side of the table, Senator Pryor on the other side of the table. You could moderate it, Roby, and we could do it right here in this studio, if Senator Pryor would just agree.’” [, 7/14/14]

Cotton Campaign Insisted On Social Media That Pryor Accept The Debate Proposed By Spokesman David Ray That Required Only Cotton, Pryor And Roby Brock As The Moderator. [@TomCottonAR, 7/14/14; Tom Cotton Facebook, 7/14/14; @DavidARay,7/15/14; @devin_omalley, 7/14/14; @FredBThird, 7/14/14; @GarrettMcInnis, 7/14/14; @john_burris, 7/14/14]