Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Arkansas Senate Race: Blanche Lincoln's Uphill Battle Against John Boozman

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln doesn't have to close a small gap in her race against Republican Rep. John Boozman.

She has a cavern to conquer.

Some polls show the incumbent senator down by 40 points heading into the fall midterm election. But unlike the anti-Washington sentiment facing other incumbents, Lincoln, a Blue Dog Democrat, has her own set of unique circumstances that makes a November victory challenging, but not impossible.

Blanche Lincoln, John Boozman"Right now, few voters are paying attention to the actual races they'll see on November ballots," said Janine Parry, political science professor and director of the Arkansas Poll at the University of Arkansas. "Rather, cues are coming only from national news coverage, and reflect the markedly anti-Democratic mood nationwide. In short, what the polls in Arkansas currently reflect is a generic Democrat vs. Republican sentiment, not Lincoln versus Boozman."

The polls also don't include two other candidates who are running -- the Green Party's John Gray and Trevor Drown, an independent who served as a Green Beret in Afghanistan.

Lincoln had a grueling primary in the spring against Lt. Governor Bill Halter and an unknown candidate named D.C. Morrison. Because of Morrison's presence, the battle between Halter and Lincoln had to go to a June run-off, which Lincoln barely won. On one hand, the primary toughened her. On the other, it forced her to lean left, away from her more moderate positions.

In contrast, Boozman, an optometrist and former Arkansas Razorback football player, sashayed to victory in an eight-man primary where he garnered 57 percent. His competition raised very little money and the GOP primary is dominated by northwest Arkansas's Third District, which Boozman has represented for nearly 10 years.

This week, Boozman hosted a fundraiser with South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) popped into the state in July to help Boozman with fundraising.

Boozman needs the help. He may lead in the polls, but Lincoln leads in money. In the last fundraising quarter, Boozman raised $620,000 and had less than $500,000 on hand. Boozman said at the Thune event that that fundraising is going well this quarter. The National Republican Committee sees Arkansas as a key pick-up state and promises Boozman will have whatever resources he needs to defeat Lincoln.

Third parties will also likely be a factor just like they were in the Democratic primary.

In the last quarter, Lincoln raised more than $2 million in those three months and ended the quarter with nearly $1.9 million on hand.

Last week, Lincoln was the first to hit the airwaves with two commercials. Boozman has yet to air an ad.

In one ad, Lincoln is in a pasture next to a white fence, pointing out differences between herself and Boozman. She said the Washington unions attacked her for being too conservative and now Boozman is attacking her for being too liberal.

"Unlike John, I'm against privatizing Social Security and Medicare," Lincoln says in the ad. "And I think John's idea for a 23 percent national sales tax on everything you buy is just a plain bad idea."

Boozman has said that he is not for privatizing Social Security or Medicare. Boozman did support a plan by former President George W. Bush that would have allowed people to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private accounts. He has voted for bills that included cuts to Medicare. He adamantly denies wanting to cut benefits for seniors.

Thune said at the media availability prior to the Boozman fundraiser that Lincoln is using typical Washington scare tactics.

"It's a very predictable strategy," said Thune. "Dust off the playbook when you are behind and roll out the usual 'They are going to take away Social Security and Medicare' attack against Republicans."

Lincoln's other ad, "Better for Arkansas" directly addresses her controversial health care vote, saying that she works to find balance in the Senate.

Some Democratic loyalists admit that Lincoln faces a tough, possibly unfeasible, climb. Many say she has only herself to blame, instead of the current political climate, for the lack of interest she showed in Arkansas over the last six years. Lincoln spends much of her time in Virginia where her husband practices medicine and her twin teenage sons attend school.

But her campaign shrugs off the criticism.

"She certainly has a 75-county operation," Katie Laning Niebaum, Lincoln's campaign spokeswoman, told Politics Daily. "She has been traveling the state and is having a good response from folks. Her top priority is helping businesses create new jobs."

The GOP side naturally sides with Lincoln's critics.

"Lincoln would come to Arkansas, tell people what they wanted to hear then go to Washington and be a representative of the Washington agenda," said Alice Stewart, Republican Party of Arkansas senior communications adviser.

Stewart cites Lincoln's health care reform vote as an example of her close ties to the Obama administration.

In a year when pundits say that a victory is possible simply by having an "R" beside a name, Lincoln has one advantage that an "R" can't buy -- her position as chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. She's the first woman in that position.

As head of the committee, Lincoln, who grew up on a large farm in eastern Arkansas, holds a prominent position in a state that is dominated by farming. This position goes a long way in two critical congressional districts in the state -- the First and the Fourth -- where farming is an ancestral business.

Recently national editorials have criticized Lincoln on farm subsidies to help Arkansas farmers.

Recently, The New York Times wrote a scathing editorial titled "Save the Senator" about Lincoln who wants $1.5 billion in relief disaster for Southern farmers who have lost rice and cotton crops because of torrential rain.

The editorial calls the aid a "windfall" for farmers because "relief payments would be based not on a farm's actual loss but on the amount it received under the government's direct payments program, a generous annual subsidy based on a farm's size regardless of market conditions."

But in Arkansas, farming added $16.3 billion to the state's economy in 2008 through employee compensation, proprietary income and indirect business taxes. It provides $9.75 billion in labor income or 15 percent of the state's total labor income. The state is No. 1 in rice production and No. 2 in poultry boiler production. It ranks in the top 25 of 24 agriculture commodities.

Such national attention -- good or bad -- on Lincoln's agriculture chairmanship may just help her.

"I think it most certainly works to her advantage," said pollster Janine Parry. "Despite The New York Times' cynicism, it won't be because of the money per se, but rather the indirect effect on reminding the Arkansas farm lobby that she is better positioned to help them than any elected figure in recent Arkansas history."

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.


Filter by:

Both of these Candidates are Highly Qualified. They have identifiable voting records that should be highlighted and should allow the voters to choose appropriately. Blanche Lincoln has been a successful moderate legislator and a proven fiscal conservative. Her next big opportunity to shine is when the Ag Bill is blacklined and the PBA provision killed, the Estate Tax Provision Exempted for Family Farms, while family and kid friendly programs are preserved. What percentage of Alabama Residents rely on Family Farms or have friends and or relatives that were involved in Farms?

September 10 2010 at 1:55 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anna's comment

So Anna, which Blanche Lincoln are you speaking about? How many are running for Senate in Arkansas?

September 18 2010 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is absolutely NO push for the Republicans to "privatize" social security. That was an idea floated by Bush and it just plain died. The Dems called it a "risky theme" and most Republicans saw that it was an issue better left alone. There should have been dialogue about the proposal, but we don't have discussions anymore--just political shouting. So on this issue Blanche Lincoln is a liar and she knows it. On the second issue, Medicare. Republicans do not favor cutting health care to seniors. That is another lie and Blanche Linclon knows it. The truth is, there is more fraud in Medicare and Medicaid than anyone wants to admit. If the government was capable of running Medicare and Medicade, which they are not, then they could eliminate about 35% of the cost of these programs, simply by rooting out the fraud and corruption. Just this week, a husband and wife were convicted and sentenced to Medicade fraud. They stole 80 million dollars. That's just 2 folks. How many more are there? There comes a time when we have to understand that the Federal government should be a limited government. They should provide for national security, infrastructure, and the military. Everything else, they need to let the states handle.

September 08 2010 at 6:45 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

All people running for office should only be allowed to spend what that job pays and no more.No more fundraisers or donations from outside personal.

September 07 2010 at 1:26 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

We need to vote Lincoln out of office for her stance against large financial institutions. Blaming them because people are walking out on their mortgage payments because the home price has dropped in plain stupid. If we undermine large banks, then we will see the cost of banking services rise significantly because smaller banks will increase fees and lower deposit rates to compensate for their much higher cost structure. Out with Lincoln.. Anybody else will do who does not demonize large financial institutions to win favors from small banks that offer nothing of value.

September 04 2010 at 10:21 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply

If you run as a Democrat and vote like a Republican, then you deserve your fate becasue people will vote Republican. It is her problem and it is the problem of the blue dogs who continue to align their interests with corporate America. The problem with our country is that we don't have representatives who believe in American manufacturing but are globalists who believe in capitalism for the wealthy. When you manufacture goods in Asia and ship them back to yourself, that's called mercantilism, which is what our founding fathers were against.

September 04 2010 at 8:04 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to drbuckles's comment

Dr B. I WANT MANUFACTURING BACK HERE TOO.It is said for every manufacturing job there are seven associated jobs created......It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how absolutely important manufacturing is. Manufacturing adds value to the economy.Not paper pushers. BUT FIRST...TO BE COMPETITIVE this country must address to overbearing taxes on corporations...this is one of the main reasons companies go off shore. You all know that the U.S.taxes corporations at the highest levels in the world(well,maybe Japan is a smidge higher)NO, well you know it now. The unions guys GOT TO WORK OUT SOMETHING WITH MANAGEMENT.Unions are as much as anybody to or not. what's a matter with profit sharing. Regulations...some of the OSHA and EPA rules are beyond asinine. That JUST A START.....BUT we GOT to have manufacturing.....You can't make a living with wall to wall McDonalds.

September 05 2010 at 8:56 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

She doesn't have my vote, after the tricks played on the run off in Garland county, which could have possibly put Halter in the lead and the schnanigans played over health care. Now I find out she doesn't even really live in the state, if her husband and kids live, work and go to school in Virginia then she belongs in Virginia, not Arkansas, she probably spends the majority of her time there anyway, just coming here to campaign.

September 04 2010 at 7:22 PM Report abuse +15 rate up rate down Reply

The women is bought and paid for by Walmart. Just look up the donor list. I can't wait to see her GONE !

September 04 2010 at 2:22 PM Report abuse +22 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to thorn11acr's comment

If a pickpocket steals a few dollars from your wallet, he may end up in jail. But if a politician repeatedly votes to steal trillions from taxpayers, we reward them with generous salaries and fringe benefits, then continue rewarding them in retirement.

September 04 2010 at 3:54 PM Report abuse +25 rate up rate down Reply
Ray and Carmen

Lincoln is gone, gone, gone and deservedly so. In my entire life I have rarely seen a Senator so out of touch with the people. Hundreds of thousands of Arkansas citizens beseeched her not to vote for Obamacare she did not listen and ignored all rationale from her constituents. Now she will pay the price and no amount of spinning will change this. By the way Blanche you might be surprized that there are a lot of people who are all for some form of privatization of Social Security because those of us in our twenties, thirties, and forties watch as the goverment deducts a couple of hundred from our checks twice a month for Social Security and we do not even know if SS is going to be solvent when it is time for us to retire. I think Blanche looks at Arkansas as if it is a state filled with uneducated, impoverished serfs. Shame on her for this broad brush view. Don't let the door hit you on the way out of office!!!

September 04 2010 at 2:04 PM Report abuse +30 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ray and Carmen's comment

What we need to do to save Social Security is ignore Republican idiocy and get the economy moving again. If you want to make Social Security disappear, listen to the privatizers.

September 04 2010 at 7:39 PM Report abuse -17 rate up rate down Reply

"This week, Boozman hosted a fundraiser with South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Senate MAJORITY Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) popped into the state in July to help Boozman with fundraising." From Suzi Parker's keyboard to God's eyes. The Dems are toast.

September 03 2010 at 9:56 PM Report abuse +49 rate up rate down Reply

I do live in Arkansas and very glad I do. John Boozman is our Congressman from the 3rd District and has, in my opinion done a very good job in that capacity and as such will most definitely be getting my vote in the upcoming Senate race. One thing I really appreciate about Mr. Boozman is his attention to constituent service and his office will respond back when contacted.

September 03 2010 at 9:50 PM Report abuse +45 rate up rate down Reply

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>