Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Left And Right Circle The Wagons Around Blanche Lincoln

Since I don't plan to visit Arkansas, I can say from a safe distance that in my humble opinion, the liberal group MoveOn.org  and the service employees union attempting to raise millions of dollars for what they consider a liberal candidate for U.S. Senator is not a wise investment.

The object of their affection is Lt. Gov. Bill Halter who is attempting to unseat two-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Now, I share disappointment with these two groups over Lincoln's pledge to support a Republican attempt to block a vote on health reform legislation skirting Senate filibuster rules by reconciliation.

Arkansas voters are a fickle lot and known as a swing state on the national level. In the 2008 presidential primary/caucus, Hillary Clinton trounced Barack Obama by a 72-29 margin. Certainly, much of that can be attributed to her name, being the wife of former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Republican John McCain won the state in the general election by 59%..

But, Arkansas allows open primaries which tends to dilute the advocacy of special interests groups. I can't fathom a far-left political base pushed by MoveOn packing much power at the polls. Another factor is Arkansas is a non-union state. I would presume the three AFL-CIO's political action committees' endorsement of Halter and pledge to raise $3 million is another toothless tiger.

There's more: Halter is an unknown commodity. While liberals consider him a rising political star, he hasn't been required to cast a tie-breaking vote in the state legislature since his 2006 election. His signature advocacy was supporting a state constitutional amendment successfully passed in 2008 that authorized the state to sell lottery tickets to fund college scholarships. During the Clinton administration he served as a deputy commissioner and acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

Again. the demographics favor a candidate who is moderate-right. Lincoln's vote keeping health reform in jeopardy in a state that needs all the help it can get, in addition to anti-union and climate change positions, hasn't endeared her to rank and file voters on the center/left side of the pendulum.

Lincoln is facing an uphill run for reelection and is considered to be moving right to attract the state's more moderate and conservative voters. 

In filing her candidacy Monday at the state capital in Little Rock, Lincoln told supporters "outside special interests on both extremes are plotting today to gain control of this Senate seat representing you, the people of Arkansas. I know it, because I am the rope in the tug of war, folks."

Within earshot, a dozen protesters waved signs and yelled "Bye-bye, Blanche." 

State Republicans are gleeful Lincoln is being challenged, believing she will exhaust her $5 million war chest for campaign expenses in the primary. Eight Republicans, including Rep. John Boozman, have announced intentions to run as Lincoln's popularity ebbs in what is believed a GOP-leaning state.

Who knows? Maybe Halter can pull an upset but of lesser consequences than Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

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