A primary fight for Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Good for Republicans?
The liberal wing of the Democratic Party, no fan of incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, is cheering the forthcoming primary fight with state Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Some political analysts say the internal party battle could make the seat even riper for a Republican takeover.
(Page 2 of 2)
The Cook Political Report has the race as a toss-up between Lincoln and her Republican opponents. Duffy says that won’t change during the primary.Skip to next paragraph
Gallery Retiring senators
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The Democratic far left, meanwhile, quickly mobilized to support Halter. MoveOn.org fired off an e-mail to its listserv, calling Halter’s entry into the race “huge news.” “For the past year, a small handful of conservative Democrats in Congress has obstructed progress at every turn," the e-mail read. "But starting today, we've got a huge opportunity to stop one of the worst of them.”
As of late Monday, MoveOn reported raising almost $423,000 for Halter. ActBlue, a fund-raising site for Democrats, said it raised $102,000 for him on Monday.
“With Halter’s entry into the race, this is exactly what the Netroots is about,” says Matthew Kerbel, a political scientist at Villanova University and author of “Netroots: Online Progressives and the Transformation of American Politics (Media and Power).” “You’ll have labor, MoveOn, and many progressive groups getting involved, and they will aim all of their fire at her. It sends a powerful message to conservative Democrats who take a lot of corporate money.”
Halter's background and record
Halter has served as Arkansas' lieutenant governor since 2006. He is best known as leading a successful campaign to establish a state-run lottery. The proceeds go toward college scholarships, which kick in for the first time this year.
He is also chairman of the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association. He served in the Clinton administration as a deputy commissioner of Social Security and in the executive office of the president, working with the Office of Management and Budget to balance the budget in the 1990s.
Last year, in the middle of the healthcare debate, Halter helped organize a one-day free medical clinic in Little Rock. It was held the same day as a procedural vote in the Senate that moved the healthcare reform bill forward. Lincoln voted to proceed, but her support had been in doubt.
On Halter’s Facebook fan page, he wrote, “The reason I'm running is pretty simple: Washington is no longer on the side of Arkansas families. And it’s up to us to fix it.”
Halter isn't planning a festive campaign announcement with a catfish buffet, like the one Lincoln hosted Monday. He will simply walk into the capitol and file for office, a Halter campaign worker said.
Is there potential that Arkansas Democrats will rally around him? Professor Kerbel, for one, says yes. “Democrats have not been energized in Arkansas,” he says. “It will get people to come out and vote for him and puts her in a challenging political position.”