Arkansas primary a crucible for Blanche Lincoln, centrist politics
The Arkansas primary on Tuesday is a test for the centrist stance of incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat. Runoffs may be needed in both the Democratic and Republican contests.
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Eight Republicans are vying Tuesday for the right to challenge Lincoln or Halter in the November general election. A runoff is likely for that contest, too.Skip to next paragraph
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State Sen. Gilbert Baker, a former music professor, has created a grass-roots base from the anti-establishment side. Former state Sen. Jim Holt, who ran for Senate against Lincoln in 2006 and garnered 44 percent, is also considered a formidable candidate.
Recent polls show five Republican candidates beating Lincoln or Halter in a November match-up.
Outside interest is high
Lincoln and Halter have battered each other during the primary with television ads and mailers, especially about outsourcing jobs.
Third-party groups have also played a role in the Democratic primary battle, with millions of dollars of television ads.
One group, Americans for Job Security, launched a television ad earlier this month that showed Indian actors in their native dress thanking Halter for outsourcing jobs to India. Many political watchers called the ad “racist.” Lincoln denounced the ad, but she also targeted Halter on outsourcing of jobs.
Halter served on the board of a California company that opened an office in India. He has said no American jobs were lost but rather that jobs were created in India. Halter, in turn, targeted Lincoln’s votes on trade agreements.
If Lincoln wins the primary battle, some suggest she may actually be more prepared for a general election.
“She was in a lot more trouble six and eight weeks ago,” says Lara Brown, assistant professor at Villanova University. “The challenge from the left has brought her back home and has given her an opportunity to reconnect with the party, supporters, and with Arkansas in general.”
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