David Hampton Pryor was born in Camden, Ouachita County, Arkansas on 29 August 1934. He became a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives as a Democratic Party member in 1960, serving until 1966; he became a lawyer in 1964. On 8 November 1966, Pryor was elected to the US House of Representatives to represent Arkansas' 4th district, succeeding Oren Harris; he served until 3 January 1973, and Ray Thornton succeeded him. Pryor decided not to run for re-election to take part in a failed run for the US Senate, but he managed to win the 1974 gubernatorial election. In 1978, he won the Senate seat that he had coveted, and he served in that position until 1997, when he retired. From 2008 to 2009, he briefly served as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas after Bill Gwatney's murder.