Sunday, June 20, 2010

A sympathetic view of Blanche Lincoln's Arkansas Senate primary win

I don't share Gene Lyons' particular perspective on whether it was a good idea for labor and other progressive groups to promote an unsuccessful primary challenge to Arkansas' Blue Dog Democrat Blanche Lincoln. But his observations are, as usual, worth noting (Why Lincoln Beat Halter Cagle Post 06/16/2010):

Simply and very broadly put, the race was viewed very differently inside than outside Arkansas. Pragmatism had a lot to do with it. For all the cultural conservatism of its largely rural and small town populace, the state hasn't yet adopted Southern-style Republicanism. At present, Arkansas' governor, both U.S. senators, and three of four congressmen are Democrats. Many would prefer keeping it that way.

I don't believe I know a Democrat who hasn't been put out with Lincoln over something or other. Her GOP-accented stance on estate taxes makes me crazy. But many also believed that nominating a candidate promoted by labor unions and left-wing advocacy groups like MoveOn.org would essentially concede the Senate seat to an Oklahoma-style, right-wing Republican who’d then prove extremely hard to dislodge.

Lincoln, President Obama can count on maybe 50 percent of the time; her Republican opponent, never.

Arkansas being Arkansas, personal issues also figured strongly in the result. As a retail politician, Blanche is seen as warm and charming, with a disarming smile. [Lincoln's primary opponent Lt. Gov. Bill] Halter's neither; he's widely mistrusted by most people in politics. Word got around. Even local pundits who favored Halter expressed personal reservations. He attracted no name-brand Arkansas endorsements.
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