If Will Rockefeller and Adams Pryor are the future of Arkansas politics, then it will be a bright one.
The pair appeared at the Clinton School of Public Service last Friday to speak to more than 200 people and in the audience were former governors Jim Guy Tucker and David Pryor, who also is Adams Pryor’s grandfather.
And that was kind of the point of the event. Rockefeller and Pryor are among the most famous last names in Arkansas with Will’s grandfather, Winthrop, a former governor and then his father, Win, who served the state as lieutenant governor.
For Adams, his grandfather, whom he affectionately called “D.P.” served as governor, then in the United State Senate. Meanwhile his father, Mark, also served in the U.S. Senate and, in addition, was Arkansas’s Attorney General.
The event was moderated by Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford who called it “a conversation with the next generation” and added, “your families have had an extroidinary impact on the state.”
When asked directly, neither ruled out a run for public office in the future, but first, for Adams Pryor, he needs to graduate from law school at the University of Arkansas, while Will Rockefeller, is working for the family businesses and is also pursuing a master’s degree from Georgetown in real estate development.
The pair told a story of how they first met.
“It was in Perry County,” Adams Pryor said. “Me, D.P. and my sister were at the grocery store, campaigning for my dad.”
“Harps. It was the Harps,” Will Rockefeller said of the grocery store in Perryville. “We always stopped there on the way to Petit Jean.”
“So we are out there, handing out flyers, and out walk the Rockefellers,” Adams said with a laugh.
Despite the last names and political connections, aside from random grocery store run-ins, both described conventional childhoods.
“I thought I was a pretty normal kid growing up,” Rockefeller said. “My parents fairly shielded me from the spotlight.”
Pryor was born into it.
“My grandfather was still in the Senate when I was born,” he said. “I was 3 when he decided not to seek a fourth term.”
He then talking about a childhood spent in Washington, while his father served in the Senate, before moving back to Arkansas for high school at Little Rock Catholic.
Both said the state’s greatest strength it its people but diverged on what they would do for Arkansas.
Rockefeller said, “education is the key” along with improving economic development, while Pryor said he would push for “criminal justice reform.”
Images courtesy of the Clinton School of Public Service