Sen. Mark Pryor forced to kick off campaign early after attacks

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) - People came out in the hundreds for Saturday's fundraiser, which typically doesn't take place for another several months. But the once-safe Democrat, who's been under attack recently, says it was the only way to fight back.

"I didn't come here to criticize this independent groups but let me take the opportunity to do so," said U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

It's the beginning of a grueling and tiresome race that Senator Pryor says he was forced kickoff early.

"In today's world you have all these outside special interest groups, they come in the state they start advertising ," said Pryor. "You just have to have a little ammunition to push back on some of that, otherwise, one of these races will get away from you," he said.

Pryor is starting his campaign months in advance to fight back against conservative groups, like Club for Growth, who just launched a "six figure" television ad against him. But Pryor has some big names fighting back with him.

Bill Clinton, David Pryor, who's Mark's father and former U.S. senator, as well as the governor of Arkansas came out to show their support. The reason behind such heavy support so early is simple.

And being the only Democrat in Arkansas' Congressional Delegation, Pryor has an uphill battle for the seat he's had for ten years. But despite the pressure, he says his strategy is straightforward.

"I'm here to represent Arkansas, not a party, not a philosophy, just try to represent a state," said Pryor.

Pryor's campaign spokesperson says Saturday's fundraiser brought in nearly 500 attendees and over $1 million.