The campaign for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), facing a tough reelection battle against a veteran, is touting his work on a high-profile case in which casualty benefits were denied to the family of a Bronze Star Recipient.
Capt. Samson Luke, who died during a weekend of duty with the Arkansas National Guard in 2010 is the subject of 30-second spot for a six-figure statewide ad buy announced on Tuesday. The ad features Luke’s widow, Miranda (pictured), who said in the ad that the senator was the only one to respond after the Army denied benefits and “took our cause on personally.”
Capt. Luke, a decorated veteran who served two tours in Iraq, was assigned to do weekend work with the state’s National Guard on Jan. 9 and 10, 2010, and was given permission to spend the night at home (saving the military money on a hotel), a mere 12 miles from Fort Chaffee, when he died of a heart attack.
After the funeral, the family’s casualty officer was reassigned and Miranda Luke was told the military wouldn’t pay death benefits due to the fact that her husband wasn’t on the base when he died. Her issue became a cause célèbre, and she told Fox News in 2011, “I would like them to do what’s right and not only give me and my four kids back the benefits that my husband died for.”
Pryor then attached a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act in 2011 to change the provision that allowed the U.S. Army to deny the Luke family their benefits. Pryor also invited Miranda Luke to the State of the Union speech this January.
The ad is no doubt a bid to tout Pryor’s commitment to military families and veterans in a tough reelection battle against his opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who served with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division.
“All I would say is that Mark’s record speaks for itself,” said campaign spokesperson Erik Dorey. “We’d be happy to compare the record of accomplishments in Congress with our opponent any day of the week.”
TPM’s Polltracker average puts Cotton at 49.5 percent and Pyor at 43.9 percent.
Watch the ad below: