AR-Sen: The state of play

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will spend $1.4 million in Arkansas before the June 8 runoff Democratic primary election between Senator Blanche Lincoln and Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.

The union is sending about 50 staffers to Arkansas for the race's last three weeks, with a particular focus on rallying African-American voters behind Halter, the president, Gerald McEntee, said, describing an independent expenditure campaign on a scale likely to dominate the state's airwaves.

McEntee also told Ben Smith that AFSCME wants to send "a shot across the bow of other Democrats" who may be considering voting against labor interests the way Lincoln has. (To cite one example, Lincoln is among several Senate Democrats who voted for the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007 but backed away from it under a Democratic president.)

Lincoln's biggest weapon in the runoff campaign is President Bill Clinton, who plans to return to Arkansas to campaign for her on May 28. She will also tout the strong language on regulating derivatives that she pushed as part of the financial reform bill just approved in the Senate.

Halter finished only slightly behind Lincoln in the May 18 primary, with 43 percent of the vote to Lincoln's 45 percent. Conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison won about 13 percent and has said he won't endorse a candidate in the runoff. Halter gained rapidly on Lincoln in the past month:

Momentum is with Halter, and even with Bill Clinton behind her, it won't be easy for Lincoln to turn things around. That said, I wouldn't get too excited about the overnight survey Democracy for America commissioned from Research 2000, which showed Halter ahead of Lincoln among likely runoff voters. Over at, Mark Blumenthal argues that the question wording and order in that poll may have "primed" respondents to support Halter. Markos Moulitsas says Daily Kos will commission another Research 2000 poll of the Arkansas race next week, presumably asking the vote preference question before any issue questions.

Any thoughts on the Arkansas race are welcome in this thread. I'm supporting Halter not only because he is a better Democrat, but also because he polls better against Republican John Boozman. Even with Halter as the nominee, Boozman would be favored to win this seat, though.

Tags: AR-Sen, Arkansas, 2010 elections, Congress, Senate, Blanche Lincoln, Bill Halter, Bill Clinton (all tags)



RE: AR-Sen: The state of play

I'm supporting Halter not only because he is a better Democrat, but also because he polls better against Republican John Boozman.

Same here. Also, there is very little risk and tremendous reward in unseating plantation blanche. Control of the Senate is not really in play, and you're losing one of the most egregious corporate dems pretty much either way.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-05-21 01:08PM | 0 recs
Halter is better

but this isn't a seat we are going to hold.

I am hoping that someone at the DSSC is think about a firewall to protect a couple of seat margin in the Senate.  This would include pouring money into Washington, CT, NY and Illinions.

I don't think the money going into Arkansas makes much sense at all.

by fladem 2010-05-21 01:20PM | 0 recs
Menendez has made some big mistakes

I can't understand why the DSCC was spending for Cal Cunningham in NC, for instance.

I think it makes perfect sense for the unions to put money behind Halter. Bad Democrats need to be held accountable to their primary electorate too. If Halter wins the primary with strong support from organized labor, that will send a message to other incumbents.

I think we will end up with 52-54 Senate seats, but the big problem is going to be 2012. The map is horrible for us, and we are virtually guaranteed a loss in NE.

by desmoinesdem 2010-05-21 03:34PM | 0 recs
A message that will quickly be lost

once Halter gets his ass handed to him in November. Then the message will be "Liberals learned their lesson to shut up in red states"

If we're going to lose this seat anyway, isn't it better to lose it with Lincoln and to try convince people it's because she wasn't Democratic enough, rather than lose it with Halter and be left trying to defend the decision to run a guy clearly to the left of the Arkansas electorate.

I mean I'm not so sure it's true, Lincoln won all the progressive strongholds of the state, Halter won the conservadem areas. It's almost as if they each got each other's votes somehow.

by DTOzone 2010-05-21 06:04PM | 0 recs
RE: Seriously,

Have you visited Arkansas? It's a true Southern backwater. Less than 3,000,000 human inhabitants. In 2008, John McCain defeated Barack Obama by 20 points. Blanche Lincoln is, from the Arkansas perspective, a godless communist... and worse.

Halter, if miraculously victorious (twice) will inherit the derision of all who hate the blue dog Democrats.




by QTG 2010-05-21 07:48PM | 0 recs
The problem with Arkansas

is that when Halter loses in November, Halter will forever become the pariah for those who argue against primaries from the left.

When Dems try to go after people like the Nelsons or McCaskill or another red state Democrat, the establishment is going to point to Bill Halter and progressives will no defense except "Well X can't win anyway," which is an unproven argument.

Sestak, Lamont, they made sense because these are states where those guys can get elected...I'm not even so sure Sestak is to the left of Specter, but anyway...but if Halter goes down in Arkansas in November, unless it's closer than expected, it's going to be a huge black eye for the netroots...huge.

I mean I hope the netroots know they're literally staking their entire credibility on sending Bill Halter to the Senate. (and keep in mind, he hasn't even officially endorsed EFCA yet)  

by DTOzone 2010-05-21 09:28PM | 0 recs
RE: Menendez has made some big mistakes

He has been the worst DSCC chair I have ever seen.  Even worse than Elizabeth Dole and that is quite a feat.  You dont spend nearly a milion dollars on a primary and take Democrats out of vulnerable House seats to run in Senate races where they dont have a prayer. 

by Kent 2010-05-21 07:33PM | 0 recs
oh hello

where were you Tuesday night?

by DTOzone 2010-05-21 09:32PM | 0 recs
I was around on Tuesday night

and the DCCC did a great job in PA-12.  The DSCC is in the worst shape it has been since the 1993-1994 cycle.  A decent DSCC chair would have got down on his knees and begged Evan Bayh to run for another term, cleared the primary field for Arlen Specter, would have guided Martha Coakley to victory in the most liberal state in the country, and would have had Patty Murray raise enough funds and dug up enough opposition research to keep candidates like Dino Rossi out of the race.  And finally, a good DSCC chair would have realized that David Vitter is popular and forgiven in Louisiana and would not have wasted a good House member like Charlie Melancon on the race and cost Democrats a crucial House seat. 

Chuck Schumer or even Bob Toricelli would never allow this shit to happen as DSCC chair. 

by Kent 2010-05-21 10:32PM | 0 recs
you're funny

stick around, mocking you is a good time

by DTOzone 2010-05-21 10:42PM | 0 recs
RE: Menendez has made some big mistakes

I firmly believe the Senate is in play.  There are simply too many Senate Dems under 50 .  Look at how the races involving Senate Dems have closed:  in everyone reasonably large leads disappeared.

This is what I think of as the "Iowa effect".  In the year before a Presidential election, Iowa polling looks nothing like national polls because the race is engaged in Iowa but not elsewhere.  When the races in this cycle have become engaged, in Mass, Penn and Arkansas, Dems have watched leads evaporate.  

Because I believe we need every resource we can find, I think the netroot money going into Arkansas is a seriously mistaken.  We cannot hope to win in a state Obama lost by 20, and in the end the leadership that is urging people to fund that race is going to lose credibility.

2012 will be better because the economy will have recovered, and Democratic turnout is higher in Presidential years.  I hope.

by fladem 2010-05-21 08:02PM | 0 recs

I hope Halter wins and ride the coattails of Beebe to through the election we need someone who will stand up for the working class not elites in this country.

by olawakandi 2010-05-22 07:49AM | 0 recs


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