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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reflecting on an electoral loss

Pryor reflects on his 1972 campaign for the Senate, which he lost. He ascribes his loss to his Democratic primary opponent's superior organization, which managed to use issues like prayer to siphon votes away from Pryor. His opponent also outspent him, but Pryor cites his own lack of organizational skills as a principal determinant of the race's outcome.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Pryor, June 13, 1974. Interview A-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DE VRIES:
Can I ask you a 20-20 hindsight question? You've had two years to think about it, almost. Why did you lose in '72?
DAVID PRYOR:
I could talk on into the night on this. One, I was not supposed to win it. Everybody asked me why I lost the race. I always asked myself how I got 49% of the vote. I think we ran a magnifi. . . well, we ran a much better race than everyone expected us to run. No one gave me a chance. No one gave me the remotest hope of winning. I felt I could win. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
WALTER DE VRIES:
Looking at one point.
DAVID PRYOR:
Looking at one point.
WALTER DE VRIES:
[Unclear.]
DAVID PRYOR:
A lot of people say that the debate lost the race. This is one thing. I can't point it to one particular instance. One thing I think caused me to lose the race is that I don't think that they ever realized that they were in trouble. I don't think the Senator ever realized he was in trouble. I think the night of the first primary, when he was in a run off and I got 42% and he got 46% or something like that, whatever that was. I think they were in a state of shock, And I think that because most of the other races were over in the state, it freed the so-called politicians in the court houses and everyone else. And I think they just flat outworked us and outorganized us. I think the issue of amnesty probably cut off several thousands votes. I think the prayer issue cut off another several thousand. It was just one of those strange situations where it just didn't quite all mesh together. They had a tremendous organization. It was operated from a position of leverage in four Congressional districts where I was operating from a position of leverage, so to speak, in one Congressional district. He had three-fourths of the state; I had one-fourth of the state. I didn't even have name recognition in West Memphis. They don't know who David Pryor was. They don't get Little Rock television. They don't get the Gazette or Democrat. They're on Memphis. They didn't know who or what I was. Never heard of me. In the northern counties I was in the same situation. I thought we ran a very good race, to be honest with you. But lost. You can always say and defeated politicians always say well, they had more money than we did, they outspent us ten times, and they did this and the other. Although they did outspend us, that was not the real reason. They just had organization and people and they knew how to put it together and I didn't. Had I know how to put it together I don't know if I could have. I'm not an organization person to begin with. That's one of my drawbacks.