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Blanche Lincoln Scores Surprise Win Over Bill Halter in Arkansas Senate Runoff

4 years ago
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Call incumbent Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln the Comeback Kid; even the former holder of that title is calling her that. In an e-mail to supporters after her victory speech late Tuesday, Lincoln said, "President Clinton called me tonight when it was clear we were going to win and said, 'Blanche, you're the new Comeback Kid.' "

Lincoln scored a surprise -- and most would say downright shocking -- win in the runoff against her fellow Democrat Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She defied pundits and the anti-incumbent sentiment that previously took out Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter and Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett.

Halter had been favored to win even though Lincoln had narrowly bested him in the primary on May 18. That night she squeaked by with 44.5 percent of the vote to Halter's 42.5 percent, with a third candidate receiving 13 percent.

Lincoln faced deep anti-Washington sentiment in her home state, but when Bill Clinton showed up on Memorial Day weekend to campaign for Lincoln, he took on the unions and what he called the outside interests that had bombarded Arkansas for 14 weeks during the primary. His appearance in a closing ad for Lincoln argued that it was Lincoln, not Halter, who was the true Arkansan, with deep roots in his home state. She and Clinton made the case that Halter's campaign was made up of outsiders who had come in from other states to get out the vote for him, and that message resonated.

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Now, though, Lincoln faces an uphill battle against Republican John Boozman, who won the May primary with 57 percent of the vote. Some polls have shown Boozman ahead of Lincoln by as much as 20 percentage points.

The Lincoln win shows that Arkansas is still a Blue Dog state where unions and progressive groups like MoveOn.org have limited power, and where rural voters can still sway an election. Such groups spent millions on behalf of Halter on media, mailers and GOTV efforts.

Earlier Tuesday, there was serious talk of lawsuits and recounts, particularly in Garland County, a populous county where only two polling stations were opened. But in the end, Halter conceded. "I'm not sure my campaign could have done anymore than they did in 98 days," Halter told me. He said the party should unite behind Lincoln, with whom he'd previously said he had nothing in common beyond party affiliation. When the crowd at his party Tuesday night booed at the mention of her name, he said, "No, no, no, that's not how we play."

On Wednesday, Lincoln heads back to Washington, where her bill requiring large banks to spin off their derivatives trading units will be heard on Thursday.

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98 Comments

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barnardb3

Another defeat of a UNION BACKED candidate ( Halter )! The only exception to being better than that will be when the GOP candidate beats Lincoln in NOV.

June 09 2010 at 8:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
joe

Bill Clinton showed up to support Blanche Lincoln against the candidate backed by Move On Organization and the labor unions. And the pundits like to gloat over the split in the Republican ranks. Looks like the Democrats have huge problems too.

June 09 2010 at 5:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
John

Now Lincoln can go back to selling out her vote to health insurance companies, WalMart, Wall Street Banks, and Big Oil.

June 09 2010 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment
barnardb3

I suppose that is better than Halter having to go HOME after squantering $10 million in UNION money in a losing effort.

June 09 2010 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bill

The November election will swing on voter turnout, and it looks like the Democrats will be coming out in droves for Lincoln. The ones that voted against her in the Primary are Democrats that would sooner slit their wrist than vote Republican. Boozman's 20% poll lead was before the primary. Let's see where it is next week.

June 09 2010 at 1:54 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
lcppalm

Let's see, Moveon.org was the big backer of Halter. They sent out all kinds of e-mails attacking Lincoln and backing him. Anybody keeping score on Moveon.org or isn't that allowed.

June 09 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
unravel

That's just great.... the wheels have come off the bus and the riders put the same driver back in the bus to drive it... idiots. If she wins, they deserve everything they get.

June 09 2010 at 11:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Rob & Kathy

Lincoln will be easier for a GOP candidate to defeat. She has her voting record to justify...

June 09 2010 at 11:14 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
johndeagun

Blanche will be easy to beat for the seat.

June 09 2010 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
danmooney

As a Connecticut resident, I had hoped that Arkansans hadn't lost their minds by tossing out someone who appeals to the centrist and more reasonable minds among us. If they had, it may have indicated that Arkansas, perhaps followed by the rest of the South, would be tracking on the failed political and economic path of many of the northeastern failed states. Their northern brothers have squandered their economic power in a slow drift to the political left grabbing up everything in sight. To the detriment of all, these eco-parasites and social engineers dominate now their politics and government.

Blanche Lincoln remains one of the effective few that are not deserving of the "throw out the bums" mentality in Washington. Thank goodness most Arkansans saw the outside influences promoting their own agenda that would have led at the expense of themselves and others.

June 09 2010 at 9:02 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to danmooney's comment
ettu

I would say that another thing that helped Lincoln was the fact that of the 40+ polling places that exist in the Halter parts of the State, all but 2 were not open for voters on primary day. What's up with that? As a Mod/Conservative, I am not for either of them, but, really, was it Bill Clinton or closed polling places?

June 09 2010 at 11:19 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
frank1946

Cool, she doesn't understand derivatives either, and is doing something about it !
Big Banks hate people, they love to extract Fees and use rules against customers
and society............in short, avoid Big Banks ! Glad she won, good for us and her.

June 09 2010 at 7:25 AM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

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