Republican Cotton Picks Up Arkansas Senate Seat

Republican Senate candidate Tom Cotton defeated Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor, the night's first big pickup for Republicans on their way to capturing the Senate majority.

A source close to Cotton tells NBC News that President Barack Obama called Cotton to congratulate him on his Senate victory. The president said he looks forward to working with Cotton where possible, and Cotton emphasized foreign policy as a key area for working together.

Cotton, just 37 years old, fought back against his opponent’s claims that he was overly ambitious and not yet ready for the Senate after serving just one term in the House. He was not nearly as well known to Arkansans as his opponent, but focused on tying Pryor to President Obama, whose popularity has plummeted in the state.

Throughout the campaign, Pryor was able to keep the race tighter than many expected in a state Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won by 24 points in 2012. The two-term senator got a boost from his father, David Pryor, who served as a congressman, governor and senator throughout a long career in Arkansas politics. He also benefited from the aid of one of the state’s most famous sons -- former President Bill Clinton.


--Andrew Rafferty and Kasie Hunt