David Pryor to Lead State's Democrats

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Former Arkansas governor and U.S. Sen. David Pryor will lead the state Democratic Party after the shooting death of Chairman Bill Gwatney.

The party made the announcement early Friday afternoon. Gov. Mike Beebe has said the new chairman would serve through January, when the party previously was scheduled to pick a new chairman.

Members of the state party's executive committee have said they would follow tradition and allow Beebe, a Democrat, to recommend a new chairman. Under party rules, the party's vice chairman must call a meeting of the party's state committee within 60 days of the vacancy.

Gwatney, who would have turned 49 during last month's Democratic National Convention, was shot and killed in his office at the party headquarters Aug. 13. The gunman, Timothy Dale Johnson, was shot dead by police after leading them on a 30-mile chase. The shooting is still unexplained.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)