It's been quite a year for Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln. The moderate Democrat drew fire from the left for her hesitancy in backing health care reform, then from the right for her tough proposals for financial regulatory reform. Lincoln managed to enrage the White House, fellow Democrats, unions, liberals, and conservatives. All of which may help explain why she faced not one but two primary opponents in the Arkansas Democratic primary: Lt. Governor Bill Halter, who ran to Lincoln's left, and D. C. Morrison, who ran to her right. But the vote was too close for anyone to declare victory and today Lincoln and Halter face off in a primary. The winner will face GOP Rep. John Boozman. Here's how the race is looking.
- Dems Expect Halter Win The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes, "In Arkansas tomorrow, Democrats expect Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to hand incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln her walking papers. Halter's latest internal polling has him up by four points. Lincoln last polled ten days ago; she saved her money for a barrage of last minute television ads."
- Lincoln's Rightward Drift Alienates Women The Christian Science Monitor's Suzi Parker writes, "With a stern challenge from Republican candidate John Boozman looming in the general election, Lincoln has sought to play up her centrist principles. One campaign ad highlighted her votes against Obama administration priorities, from the health-care public option to cap-and-trade energy reform. Now, she is in danger of not even making it to the general election, and her drift to the right has apparently alienated one of her strongest voting constituencies: women."
- White House Already Distancing From Lincoln The Huffington Post's Sam Stein sees President Obama backing away from Lincoln's run. "The White House is still formally supporting Sen. Blanche Lincoln's re-election bid as the Arkansas Democratic primary approaches its runoff vote on Tuesday. But over the past few weeks, as the incumbent senator's prospects for holding onto the seat have became more unsettled, the president and his team have been noticeably silent about the race. ... while the official policy is to back incumbents, there is clear shoulder-shrugging resignation that Lt. Gov. Bill Halter will emerge Tuesday as the party's candidate in the fall."
- Dem Establishment vs. Labor Unions The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza frames the race as unions for Halter and party establishment for Lincoln. "The party establishment and the labor movement have engaged in a hand to hand voter identification and turnout war in the relatively small number of critical counties where this race will be decided."
- National Labor Unions War Against Lincoln The New York Times' Shaila Dewan and Steven Greenhouse report, "They have knocked on 170,000 doors, made 700,000 phone calls, sent 2.7 million pieces of mail and spent almost $6 million on television and radio advertising. ... Even though Arkansas’s labor force is one of the least unionized in the country, labor has thrown huge support behind Mrs. Lincoln’s primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, in a runoff election on Tuesday. The unions have made the race here the centerpiece of a new effort to hold union-backed candidates accountable for their votes after they are elected."