- Associated Press - Sunday, August 3, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - On an oddly cool summer evening recently, U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman stood on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and laughed as their staffs taunted each other over who was to blame for hitting a tourist with a softball.

Standing behind home plate, the two senators from Arkansas cheered and consoled as their staffs played their fourth annual softball game. Boozman’s staff, calling itself “Booze Your Daddy,” beat Pryor’s team, “The Naturals,” 15-14 to secure a homemade, golden hog-head trophy.

“I love John, and I have a lot of respect for him. I think one of the things we realized is it’s better for Arkansas if we work together,” Pryor, a Democrat from Little Rock, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1l9qpnk ). “I’ve developed a really good friendship with him over the last 12 years, and it’s been fun.”

Boozman, a Republican from Rogers, said it is important for the two to work together.

“I think we get along very, very well. The staffs get along very, very well. And that really goes back to when I was first elected to the House, and being a new congressman and really not having a lot of experience in the legislative process. Their staff was very, very nice,” Boozman said. “It’s just everybody working together when it came to Arkansas.”

That Pryor and Boozman boast about working together stands out in a U.S. Senate that has largely come to a standstill fewer than 100 days before the November election. Pryor faces U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton in a race seen nationally as one that will help determine whether Democrats or Republicans control the U.S. Senate.

Arkansas is one of 18 states represented by senators from two parties, as are Louisiana and Missouri. Other split delegations have more cantankerous relationships.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has objected to an advertisement by her Democratic counterpart, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, that called Murkowski and Begich “a great team for Alaska.”

Begich also faces a closely watched re-election bid and is running in a state that rarely sends Democrats to Capitol Hill. Murkowski said the ad was done without her consent.

“I just think he needs to run on his record - and not mine,” Murkowski told Politico, a Washington publication. “He’s running for office, and I want a Republican partner.”

In January, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., told The New York Times that they couldn’t recall the last time they had an in-depth conversation.

“You know, we’re not best buds,” Johnson told the newspaper.

While some senators mingle during votes, those who linger in the chamber often cluster with members of their own party.

Some members of split delegations don’t acknowledge that the other senator from their state is in the room, but Pryor and Boozman can often be found sitting off to the side with their heads together.

“We sort of gravitate toward each other, and sometimes we’re talking about issues that we are working on about Arkansas and sometimes we’re talking about the Razorbacks, so it just depends,” Pryor said.

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