01:33 - Source: CNN
Arkansas Republican steals Senate seat

Story highlights

After just one term in the House, Republican Tom Cotton is headed for the Senate

Cotton defeated two-term Sen. Mark Pryor, who couldn't overcome Obama's unpopularity in the state

The win is one of six seats Republicans needed if they are to regain control of the Senate

(CNN) —  

Republican Rep. Tom Cotton has defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas, according to a CNN projection.

The win is one of six seats Republicans need to pick up to regain control of the Senate.

Like other Democrats in contentious Senate races this cycle, Pryor has struggled to distance himself from President Barack Obama, who is hugely unpopular in the state – only 34% of voters in Arkansas approved of Obama, according to a CNN/ORC poll.

Even Arkansas’ favorite son couldn’t give Pryor enough of a boost. President Bill Clinton had swung through the state more than a half-dozen times this cycle, again stumping with Pryor in the state this weekend.

But Pryor’s struggles seemed to go beyond what any surrogate could fix, with the two-term Arkansas senator stumbling on a softball question on the president’s handling of the Ebola disease.

“Um … I would say that … it’s hard to know, uh, because I haven’t heard the latest briefing on that to know all the details – I mean, I read the paper and all but,” Pryor said in an interview last month.

And that came just over a month after his campaign ran an ad attacking his opponent for voting “against preparing America for pandemics like Ebola,” which was widely panned as misleading.

Cotton faced his most stinging criticism over his opposition to reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Pryor slammed Cotton for voting against the bill in a brutal campaign and that claimed Cotton doesn’t want “to protect women and children.”

Cotton defended his vote against the bill, calling the law “too broad” in scope.

But while 138 Republicans also joined Cotton in voting against the final version of the bill, Cotton also voted against an earlier Republican proposal – the only Arkansas Republican to do so.