Both candidates come from prominent political families. Pryor's father David was a beloved Senator, who remains so popular that even Hutchinson calls him a "beautiful model for being kind and gentlemanly in a way that Arkansans appreciate." Mark Pryor, for his part, snarls that "there are not many similarities between Tim Hutchinson and David Pryor." Hutchinson's brother Asa was a popular Congressman and now heads Bush's Drug Enforcement Administration.
Pryor has managed to neutralize Iraq as an issue, saying he supports the President. That lets him concentrate on pocketbook issues in a state that, like much of the country, is feeling some pain. "The economy bothers me," says waitress Melissa Hart, as she serves up a foot-long chili dog at Town Pump, a Little Rock suds-and-sandwich shop. "It is sucking. And we need some change." That kind of attitude puts Hutchinson in a bind. Pryor notes, for instance, that the Republican has repeatedly voted against raising the minimum wage. Hutchinson counters that expanding the earned-income tax credit would be a better way to help the working poor, but he acknowledges that it's a complex argument: "Voters don't want to hear an economics lesson." If he can't find a better way to explain why he's the model for economic change, Hutchinson, the first g.o.p. Senator from Arkansas in more than 100 years, may be the last for some time.