Lawmakers Ponder Arkansas' Clout with Obama Presidency

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas was a flyover state for Barack Obama's campaign, but the state's congressional delegation doesn't plan to let that happen during his presidency.

Despite the president-elect's 20-point defeat in Arkansas in Tuesday's election, Arkansas' congressmen and senators say they believe the state will have greater clout when the Illinois senator takes office as president in January.

Congressman Mike Ross says Obama didn't win the state, but then again he didn't compete in the state.

Ross and the state's two other Democratic congressmen pointed to the experience they've gained and the Democratic Party's control of statewide offices as evidence the state will play an important role in an Obama presidency. Three of the state's congressmen - Ross, Vic Snyder and Marion Berry - are Democrats, as are Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln.

Pryor, who easily won re-election Tuesday night, said he hoped he could play a role in helping Obama reach out to Republicans in the Senate. Pryor pointed to his previous work with a bipartisan group of senators on judicial appointments as an example of how he's worked with Republican counterparts.

One area where the state may see increased clout with Obama is through the incoming president's efforts to reach out to the fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats. Ross, who is co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition, said he talked with the president-elect before the election. Ross said he thinks Obama is pledged to work with the Blue Dogs on trying to restore some fiscal discipline and accountability.

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