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Boozman Rebuffs Wal-Mart

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“His vote wasn’t a total shock,” the lobbyist said. “I think it will affect what the industry does for him. But at the end of the day, he’s not up for five years, and he’s not going to have to raise a lot of money in the near term.”

A political insider based in Arkansas predicted even fewer problems than that for Boozman, who ousted Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) last year. This individual said the swipe-fee issue garnered no public attention in Arkansas and is not on the radar of rank-and-file voters.

“I don’t think most people understand this,” the insider said. “I don’t see any adverse repercussions.”

Like Boozman, Pryor said the vote was difficult because of Arkansas’ large number of community banks. But Pryor said he was ultimately swayed by appeals from small retailers who have long complained that the swipe fees they pay are onerous and unfair.

Pryor said he might have voted with Boozman had the legislation been considered during last year’s debate over the financial regulatory reform package — or if Tester had waited a few weeks to see the new federal rule governing swipe fees that is due out this month.

Pryor, explaining that he heard very little from Wal-Mart directly during the runup to last week’s vote, said he doubted Boozman would suffer politically for opposing the nation’s largest private employer.

“I have a good relationship with them, and I guess I’ve never seen Wal-Mart really try to go after someone to punish them, or anything like that,” Pryor said during a brief interview. “This was a very close call, and [Boozman] and I split on this one. I feel like that’s why our Founding Fathers gave us two Senators per state, because a lot of these are judgment calls, and they are difficult sometimes.”

He added, “If I feel like the Fed doesn’t get it right or if I feel like it really is going to do harm in a serious way to our smaller banks and credit unions, then I reserve the right to revisit this at some point.”

Wal-Mart boasts 200 million customers per week at more than 9,000 stores in 15 countries.

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