AR-Sen: Halter Launches Primary Challenge

Big news out of Arkansas:

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter says he is seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln this fall.

    Halter’s spokesman provided a statement Monday in which the one-term lieutenant governor said he would file papers for the U.S. Senate this week. Halter is the only Democrat to formally announce a challenge to Lincoln as she seeks a third term.

Blanche Lincoln has been looking increasingly DOA in the polls, especially since the entry of GOP Rep. John Boozman — and her veering to the right in order to try to appeal to Republicans who already were resolved not to vote for her has only earned her the wrath of labor, environmentalists, the African-American community, and the netroots. The few polls that have included Halter find him not faring any better than Lincoln in the general — which suggests that the Dems’ problems in Arkansas this cycle go deeper than Lincoln herself — but I think we’ll be better positioned to try to salvage the Arkansas seat with a) a fresh face and b) a candidate who at least has the Democratic base on his side.

Halter is at a financial disadvantage compared with Lincoln’s $5 million on hand, but MoveOn is kicking into gear and organized labor is quietly moving to support Halter as well. He has a lot to do in a short time, though: the primary is on May 18. (Discussion underway in TheUnknown285‘s diary.)

RaceTracker Wiki: AR-Sen

46 thoughts on “AR-Sen: Halter Launches Primary Challenge”

  1. It’s unlikely Obama will have 59 Senate seats come 2011. He needs to get as much done now as he can. If Halter frightens Lincoln, maybe she’ll actually stop being obstructive and outright lying for once.

    That or she’ll just get more shrill and right-wing in the hope of attracting cross-over votes, but it’s worth a try.

    Assuming Obama doesn’t go for his usual modus operandi and immediately endorse Lincoln fulsomely.

  2. I understand Halter probably has more base appeal, but the biggest thing Lincoln had going for her was her financial advantage and her chairmanship of the Agricultural Committee, both of which would be lost if Halter won the primary.

    I’m not from Arkansas, and I know ArDEM is high on Halter’s chances, but I don’t see it. Arkansas is a state that only gave Obama 39 percent, and yeah, populist campaigns can work, but it’s hard to see it working in a state where the Dems are this far down the hole.

    On the other hand, since I think this seat (more than Ried’s in Nevada) was probably a lost cause in any event, I’m happy about anything that forces Lincoln to support Health Care and reconciliation, which I think this will do.

  3. She voted for HRC, which led to her poor poll numbers and now Obama/Rahm are trying to force her out.  


    Look at how many incumbents outspent their opponents and went down in flames.  santorum, Dewine, Burns, Talent and Allen all outspent their opponents by large margins, and that’s just in 2006.  while a lack of money will certainly hurt, money seems to have a peak effectiveness point.  Lincoln and reid will not be able to save themselves with money alone any more than santorum’s 24 mil stopped casey with his 13 mil.  

  5. Neither can probably win in November but at least Halter would have room to grow. People have made up their mind about Blanche. And a bonus in the meantime if she tries to shore up the base with her votes.

  6. Arkansas has the most conservative democratic voting block of any state in the country. Lincoln can easily win the primary by staying in the center or moving to the right. On top of this Halter is backed by the Unions and in a state where Walmart is king Halter will never be elected. If he wins the democratic primary many of the conservative registered democrats in Arkansas will jump ship and move to the republican camp like the rest of the south. The democratic party has managed to remain in power in Arkansas by appearing to be much more conservative than the national party.A Halter win would destroy this image and usher in a Republican takeover on the state level.

  7. I am fairly neutral about this. If I thought for a second that Lincoln had a chance at winning the GE then I would be stand up for her despite my personal dislike of her. However she stands NO chance of winning this fall so why not try someone new. Now I will admit I was surprised that Halter went threw with it. He won’t win the GE either, and he could have gone for the much easier Congressional run. If I was him I would have either ran for Congress or for a second term as LG. However I think he will do better in the general and will pull Lincoln to the left in time for the HCR vote. At the end of the day we will more than likely lose this seat, but Arkansas has been trending right for many years so it was really just a matter of time anyway.  

  8.      Lincoln can’t win in November. But beating her in the primary would be an important statement by the Democratic party’s base to others of her ilk that we will no longer tolerate “Democrats” who attack the party’s base, provide cover for the right-wing Republican agenda, and prevent the large majority of Democrats from enacting our agenda.

        On the other hand, if Halter gets the nomination, you can count on Versailles to blame him for the loss of the seat in November. “If only they’d ignored those dirty hippies, and stayed with that nice moderate, Senator Lincoln. . .”

  9. …and I attribute her stronger polling to have higher name ID from holding a more visible post.

    Against Boozman we probably aren’t going to win with anyone.  Though who says Boozman is necesarily guaranteed the nomination even if he is favored. Still time for the looney right to work their magic.

    But if we are going to have any chance we need a fresh face.  Lincoln by not being true to herself as a moderate (rather than a conservative) has alienated everyone left, right, and center.  In this year and in this seat I’d rather roll the dice on someone new than risk running a severely unpopular incumbent.

    Since  I don’t know as much about Bill Halter as I should.  Can he credibly recast himself as a “good old boy” Democrat in the general?

  10. Her numbers were in the toilet long before the HCR bill hit the Senate floor.

    The first fundraiser held by VP Biden for a sitting member of congress was for Sen. Lincoln.

    What revisionist history are you looking at?

    No really, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE respond.

  11. She had poor poll numbers long before she voted for anything. He’ll probably endorse her.

  12. assuming you meant HCR then yeah, Lincoln’s bad numbers have absolutely nothing to do with her vote for it…revisionist history indeed.

  13. Here are some of your prior ones:

    – Alex Giannoulias is a corrupt banker.

    – Chris Coons is a 3rd-tier candidate because of his name.

    – Nothing will happen to Bob Menendez at the DSCC because “he’s a Latino.”

    – IN-Sen is Safe Republican.

    – Bobby Bright will switch parties.

    – Bad news: Bill Delahunt released Amy Bishop.

  14. But no, that isn’t the case whatsoever.  In case you forgot, Rahm actually stated that the liberals are FUCKING RETARDED if they tried to place ads against conservative dems for voting against the healthcare bill.  I doubt that Obama or Emanuel want to displace her because of Healthcare.  In fact, I imagine they would like her to be reelected.  

  15. I think I saw you a few months back at Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey with my son, you were the one with big floppy shoes and a hat with a wilty flower right?

    In other news, clowns should stick to the circus and stay away from politics.  Thanks.

  16. This is a state with a strong democratic party, maybe not federally, but locally.  I’m sure if Obama campaigned a little down there that percentage would be brought up significantly.

  17. About that…does anyone know if Stabenow is allowed to chair both the Dem Steering Committee and Ag Committee? Because the job would likely fall to her if Lincoln is booted (unless Harkin, Leahy, Conrad, or Baucus are willing to give up their far more prestigious chairmanships). If she isn’t allowed to take it, or just doesn’t want to, the chairmanship would fall to…wait for it…Ben Nelson.

  18. Where Obama did not campaign and did better than he did in Arkansas.

    I see Arkansas pulling a Tennessee circa 1994 this year – when that state (which also had a very strong Democratic party) ousted its two Dem Senators. I think the tide is too strong this year.

    I hope I’m wrong.

    (interestingly, I’m far more optimistic about Nevada and Reid’s ability to pull of a win there).  

  19. I think you’re wrong on this one. Normally, sure, campaigning helps. But in Arkansas running while being black can only hurt. I’m not saying that people in Arkansas didn’t know that he is black but the people that vote generic D might not change if it doesn’t become an issue.

    I think West Virginia proves this. Obama campaigned there and his numbers got worse. They thought it was worth the risk since W. Va has decent Democratic ties on the Presidential level (more so then Arkansas).

  20. To some, everything that now happens is an Obama inspired, evil socialist plot. It is the exact opposite of the left circa 2001-2009.

  21. Lots of people up and down this thread have said this they think Reid has a better shot than Lincoln but I dunno, money can only do so much.  If people dont like you, they dont like you.  

    Plus, Lincoln’s numbers havent been as bad and I think she probably has more room to re-convince vs Reid who is in the news daily.

  22. Just what Lincoln needs, someone to force her to spend money on a primary, and take suicide votes. Thanks Halter !!

    Congratulations Senator Jay Boozman  

  23. still hasn’t gotten out of the primary yet, and it’s not like Lincoln’s numbers were amazing before this. While Halter may not perform better in the polls his unfavorables are much lower, and if we’re going to lose anyway we might as well apply pressure on Lincoln to help us get HCR through. Dawdling on passing HCR is not helping the national environment, and the quicker the national environment improves the faster we can save some marginal seats.

  24. If Lincoln won’t take the suicide votes, there’s no damn point having her in the Democratic caucus.

    She’s going to lose anyway, she might as well help Obama to get some of his agenda through in the next year. As it is now she’s no use at all.

  25. I always get my hopes up when I see a lot more comments than I had expected for a certain thread and then am pissed when half of them are replies to Kendall’s and his RedState conspiracy theories.

  26. The fact that you think Lincoln can “easily win” invalidates every other point you made. She’s getting crushed in the polls (pre-Halter) and you don’t come back from 15-20 point losses as an incumbent unless your opponent does something highly illegal. Ask FORMER Senator Santorum what it’s like to be an incumbent losing by double digits this early on.

    Also, while the unions support Halter, very few voters will vote for a candidate based on who’s endorsed them! First off, very few voters care who endorses who. Second, very few voters know who endorses who. And third, political organizations like SEIU (and EMILY’s list) have learned how to support candidates in regions where they aren’t popular. They make the ad about something that polls well and uses that to push the candidate they supported. The SEIU has a huge political wing (located here in DC) and they are much smarter and more savvy then you and me.

    BTW, Wal Mart joined the SEIU in supporting health care reform. If a Republican attacks Halter for his SEIU support I (yes me as a college kid) could write an easy response by using Wal Mart’s teamwork with the SEIU this fall to destroy the attack.  

  27. happen to be super supportive of Halter. If he does win in November I would be willing to bet that he would be much more moderate than people thought. I’m supporting him just because I think he would more electable than Lincoln.  

  28. did a Scott Brown style add were he appeared in his truck talking about main street policy. He sounded really classy and I think he could do it.  

  29. Why would Stabenow want this committee? Sure, ideally any chairmanship brings money home to that senator’s state but Stabenow has proven to care more about moving up the Democratic power ranks then help Michigan.

    Also, how would becoming chairman of Ag help Stabenow? Yes, Michigan like every state, has some agriculture (okay maybe not Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, and New Mexico–> no idea just guessing) but it’s not like Iowa where Ag is the focus of the state. I don’t think having her be Ag chairman does anything for Michigan.

    Am I missing something?

  30. The difference is Reid has so, so, so much money that even if each ad only wins over 10 voters he can get back over 50%. Also, is NV Republicans are just as unpopular as Reid. Reid can use his money building himself up (which is close to being capped) or tearing down the Republican. He should be able to destroy the Republican’s image with his millions in advertising.

    Lincoln has lots of money but not near Reid’s amount. She can also try and build herself up (which is probably capped like Reid) or tear down her Republican, and now Democrat, opposition. Unfortunately for her, Republicans in AR are much more popular then they are in NV.

  31. Nevada is, at the very worst, a slightly-reddish purple state.  Most recently, it was a blue state.  Arkansas continues to get redder and redder.

    With that in mind, Obama can help Reid.  Obama can hurt Lincoln.

    Lincoln has put herself in no man (or woman)’s land with her behavior and words, alienating the people she needs to win.  Reid’s base problems aren’t due to his stances but his ineffectiveness.  I would think Reid’s problems are more solveable.

  32. have agriculture.

    I’ll defer to someone who knows more about Michigan on just how important agriculture is to that state.

  33. involves the Beltway.

    I suspect the math Halter is working with is that the House seats are going to go Republican (even if the Little Rock one only does so for a term) this year, and even if you win as a conservative Democrat it’s going be shaky going.  On Capitol Hill it’s downhill for conservative Democratic House Reps as well.  And it’s all hell/Republican ascendence at the state level in Arkansas, below Beebe.

    So win or lose, after this Senate campaign he’ll have some capital to work with inside the Beltway if he builds it up right.

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