[UPDATED] Bye, Bye Blanche! AFL-CIO Makes Good on Threat by Turning on Lincoln

This is not a political prediction but, rather, a statement of fact: Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will be unemployed by the end of 2010.
According to just about every poll taken, Ms. Lincoln is losing to just about any Republican who may run against her in November and, in most cases, by double digits.   

On Monday, Ms. Lincoln got a primary challenger from her own party.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is moving ahead with a primary challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, he announced Monday.

“Washington is broken,” Halter said in a video on his campaign website. “Bailing out Wall Street with no strings attached, while leaving middle-class Arkansas taxpayers with the bill; protecting insurance company profits instead of protecting patients and lowering health costs; gridlock, bickering and partisan games while unemployment is at a 25-year high. Enough’s enough.”

Halter’s decision further complicates Lincoln’s already difficult path to a third term. Polls have shown the senator trailing a slew of Republican opponents, including Rep. John Boozman and state Sen. Gilbert Baker, and she has angered her own party’s base by shying away from support for liberal priorities such as the Employee Free Choice Act and a government-run health insurance plan.

In a statement, Lincoln described herself as a “target of both political extremes” and reiterated her plans to file for reelection.

“I’m excited about today and I’m excited to be a Democrat,” she said. “This Senate seat belongs to Arkansas, not to outside groups that are angry I don’t answer to them.”

To make matters worse for Lincoln, Monday night, one of those “outside groups,” the AFL-CIO, threw its weight (and $3 million) behind Lincoln’s primary opponent, Bill Halter.

In the day since he officially announced his intention to take on Lincoln in the primary, Halter has lined up the support from Democratic base groups, including progressive groups MoveOn.org and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Those two, among others, raised nearly $500,000 for Halter from progressives across the country in less than 24 hours.


The backing of the AFL-CIO is an important one for any Democrat. For Halter, it signals that the unions are prepared to put their money where their mouth has been for almost a year now when it comes to Lincoln. When Lincoln came out against the “card check” provision in the Employee Free Choice Act, unions balked and threatened to fight her. Now it seems Halter has given them their chance.

That Ms. Lincoln will be joining the ranks of the unemployed, there is no doubt. The only question is whether the end of her Senate career will be by her own hand (resignation) or at the hands of Arkansas voters.

UPDATE: From the Associated Press:

AFL-CIO leaders say the decision to oppose Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s re-election bid will send a message to other Democrats who fall out of step with unions.

Officials at the nation’s largest labor federation call the move part of a more aggressive posture to make sure labor’s support is not taken for granted. At least three unions have already pledged $1 million each to helping Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in his primary challenge to Lincoln.

Perhaps a dead fish would have been cheaper?

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.”
 Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

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Filed under AFL-CIO, Arkansas, Bill Halter, Blanche Lincoln

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