Arkansas Race a Family Affair?

Hardboiled politics in Arkansas has incumbent Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson scrambling for votes in the run-up to Election Day.

The one-term senator is perhaps the most endangered lawmaker in the Senate, and it hasn't gotten any easier running against the son of the popular former governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor.

Mark Pryor, currently the state's attorney general, is five points up in the latest poll, though some surveys have shown the race tighten in the last week.

Republicans have complained that Pryor is taking advantage of his famous name, and it isn't lost on his opponent that Pryor's name recognition could be the key to a winning ticket.

"A lot of people think David Pryor is on the ballot. They think they are voting for David Pryor," Hutchinson said.

But Hutchinson, 53, whose own brother is a former congressman and now head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, has had his own family affair to clean up.

With just 13 days left in the election, he has been forced to campaign in GOP strongholds in an effort to patch things up with conservative Republicans angry at his seeming hypocrisy over family values.

Hutchinson, a Southern Baptist minister, ran on such a platform in 1996, but three years later, he divorced his wife of 29 years and married a staffer, upsetting his base and his re-election prospects.

"You know that personal problem, that's one thing ... a little bit of trouble there, you know," said James Moore, an undecided voter.

Both candidates argue that voters consider the race to be about much more than Pryor's lineage or Hutchinson's marriage.

"Whether it's control of the Senate or it's pocketbook, they are looking at a lot more than two individuals and the factors ... whether Mark Pryor is the son of a famous father or whether I have personal life problems," Hutchinson said.

On the air, Pryor has cast himself as a conservative Democrat hoping to win over Republicans turned off by Hutchinson.

"Unlike some Democrats, I'm for strong military, and I support the president," Pryor says in one television ad.

Off the air, he won't go near Hutchinson's marital history.

"I won't talk about his personal life ... never done it in this campaign," Pryor said.

While Pryor does not have to mention it, he knows that Hutchinson's courtship of base Republicans is demonstration enough of the problem the senator faces.

Both candidates know the difference in this race will be voter turnout. The national parties are mobilizing small armies to get out the vote and the candidates could spend a combined $20 million for the seat before the race is over, with the parties contributing about $2 million to each campaign.