The Arkansas airwaves will soon be abuzz with political ads, with the first salvo in a contentious battle for the Senate seat set to be fired off Thursday.
Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity are scheduled to air new dueling ads on the same day.
Pryor, the lone Democrat in Arkansas' congressional delegation, will face one of the toughest Senate races in the country this year - maybe the toughest. Both the GOP establishment and the tea party have rallied behind Rep. Tom Cotton, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan with a pair of Harvard degrees on his resume.
Pryor's campaign unveiled two new ads today focusing on Cotton's position on Medicare. The spots are part of a six-figure statewide ad buy, and will each feature a woman voicing her concerns about Cotton's Medicare stance.
"Retirement is just around the corner for us. That's why I was so concerned when I read Congressman Cotton voted to change Medicare into a voucher system," a woman named Linda says in one ad. "Cotton's plan would allow insurance companies to increase rates, cut benefits and cost seniors thousands more each year."
"I've never been really political, but I've been doing some reading about Tom Cotton, who's running for Senate," a woman named Courtney says in the second ad. "It says here Cotton voted in Congress to change Medicare into a voucher system that will increase out-of-pocket expenses for every senior in Arkansas - thousands of dollars every year. My grandma and grandpa can't afford that, and neither can my parents."
Americans for Prosperity, a Republican outside group with ties to the Koch Brothers, is jumping into the Arkansas ad fight as well. Starting Thursday, it will air $606,000 worth of ads statewide to highlight Pryor's support of Obamacare.
"People don't like political ads. I don't like them either, but health care isn't about politics. It's about people," a woman says in the ad. "It's not about a website that doesn't work. It's not about poll numbers or approval ratings. It's about people and millions of people have lost their health insurance. Millions of people can't see their own doctors and millions are paying more and getting less. Obamacare doesn't work. It just doesn't work."
"Tell Senator Pryor to stop thinking about politics and start thinking about people," the woman says.
AFP ran a nearly identical ad against Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. in North Carolina last year.