Our friend Tom Cotton continues to attract the attention of political pundits in Arkansas as they think about the 2010 Senate race. First it was John Brummett of the Arkansas News. Now it’s David Sanders of the same publication. Here is what Sanders wrote about Tom:
Tom Cotton is unproven in politics but his friends believe he could make an impact.
Obviously, he would face an uphill climb if he decides to enter a race against an incumbent. The relatively unknown Republican is most often listed among a growing list of those who would like to unseat U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat. Republicans see the two-term senator as vulnerable.
Beyond a lack of name recognition and experience, Cotton possesses some built-in positives. His compelling personal story and remarkable list of accomplishments are ready-made for a state like Arkansas, where personality drives politics.
And, his list of friends inside and outside the state who believe Cotton has potential for political leadership will be behind him, whether he enters the Senate race, some other race, or no race.
Cotton’s personal narrative almost sounds too good to be true because it embodies the type of selfless sacrifice most men hope to achieve, but rarely do.
The Dardanelle native left his home state for Harvard, where he distinguished himself by earning an undergraduate degree and graduating Harvard Law. But as he tells it, something happened to him after the country was attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Having worked summers at some of Washington’s top law firms and after fulfilling the obligations of a clerkship for the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, he no longer had the desire to work toward the seven-figure salary many of his fellow law school graduates would soon command.
Instead, he wanted to serve his country. So, he enlisted in the Army. His recruiter thought his impressive credentials made him a natural for the branch’s JAG Corps. But that’s not what he wanted to do. Cotton told him that he didn’t volunteer to prosecute the military code of justice, but rather to lead men into battle.
After graduating from both Officer Candidate School and Ranger school, Lt. Cotton found himself on Iraq’s dusty front lines with the 101st Airborne. In Baghdad, he led the soldiers into harms way; clearing out the enemy day after day. After his tour, the Army sent him to Fort Myer, Va., just outside Washington, where he would help bury fallen soldiers.
Following his active duty service, Cotton had planned on returning to Arkansas and practicing law. But shortly after resigning his commission, he began having second thoughts. The Army was needing help in Afghanistan. In addition to hunting down the enemy, there was a civil society that needed rebuilding. Cotton was interested and said it made sense for him to go. So the young captain asked the Army to cancel his planned resignation and then he volunteered to lead one of the military’s provincial reconstruction teams.
He finished his nearly yearlong tour in Afghanistan this summer and is back home in Arkansas, where he will soon return to full civilian life. Until then, he has said he’ll await a final decision about running for political office. Meanwhile, local Republicans — lawmakers, political operatives, county committee types and those who have money to give – are hoping he’ll soon pull the trigger and challenge Lincoln. Likewise, several of Cotton’s friends back East, who also happen to be recognizable names in conservative circles, stand ready to assist with any campaign effort.
Though the number of Republicans who have emerged to challenge Lincoln is somewhat overwhelming — there are currently five or six individuals who have either announced or who are exploring the possibility — their inability to catch fire or to demonstrate the type fund-raising needed to take on Lincoln is underwhelming.
Cotton sounds like a dream come true for a state party reeling from a lack of proven talent that is also heading into the first election cycle in years in which the GOP may actually have a few advantages over Democrats.
Cotton definitely is one to watch.
By the way, for any idiot leftists out there who are still trying to disprove Tom’s existence, or who disbelieve his biography, Sanders got the details of the judicial clerkship wrong. Tom clerked on the Fifth Circuit, not the Eighth.