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Blog Home Page --> Senate -- Arkansas

Two More Incumbents On Chopping Block

Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania are entering the last few days before their May 18 primaries wondering whether they will be the next two incumbents ousted before the general election.

West Virginia Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan and Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett were both rejected by their own party in the last several days, and their results have put incumbents on both sides of the aisle on notice.

Pennsylvania Arlen Specter.jpg

Both Lincoln and Specter are on shaky ground, but Specter's prospects look somewhat more perilous. In a slip of the tongue that's symbolic of his issues in the primary, the longtime GOP senator called the Allegheny Democratic Committee that endorsed him "Allegheny County Republicans," and repeated the stumble again before concluding his Tuesday night speech to the group.

His primary opponent, Rep. Joe Sestak, continues to remind Democratic voters -- whom polls once showed siding with Specter by large margins -- that this is the same Specter that George W. Bush and conservative former Sen. Rick Santorum endorsed six years ago in his competitive Republican primary.

Since Sestak went on the air with TV ads in recent weeks, his standing among primary voters has vastly improved and he finds himself dead even with Specter in the polls. A Franklin and Marshall College Poll out Wednesday found that support for Specter is soft, so a gaffe like the one on Tuesday could help Sestak persuade voters he's the only true Democrat.

Continue reading "Two More Incumbents On Chopping Block" »

2010 Primaries: Has Gillibrand Met Her Match?

Here's a brief update on some 2010 primary races around the country:

NY Senate -- Bush Adviser May Run: Dan Senor, a former Defense Department adviser in the Bush 43 administration, "is expected to decide in the next month whether to run" against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) after state and national party leaders, including Rudy Giuliani and NRSC Chair John Cornyn, encouraged him to launch a bid, the New York Times reports. Republicans have been searching for a top tier recruit to challenge Gillibrand in the November special election -- especially following the GOP's success in the January special election in Massachusetts -- though there are a couple of Republicans who have already announced bids, so Senor would face a primary.

DE-At Large -- Wealthy Candidate Wanted: Delaware Republicans got a shot of good news earlier this week when a multimillionaire businesswoman named Michele Rollins announced she was considering running for Congress. The state GOP had struggled to find a candidate who could run on equal ground with former Lt. Gov. John Carney, giving Democrats perhaps their best opportunity to pick up a House seat in the 2010 midterms. Rollins' personal wealth makes her an attractive candidate for the national party, who would prefer to use its funds on races in Democrat-held districts. Rep. Mike Castle's (R-Del.) decision to run for Senate greatly increased the party's chances at picking up a Senate seat, but made his House seat one of the most vulnerable in the country.

AR Senate - Lincoln and Reconciliation: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), in for a challenging primary race against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, is again trying to make clear that she is against using reconciliation in an effort to get health care reform through Congress and to the president's desk. That's one issue the senator and her primary opponent disagree on, FOX News reported. "I get hit from the left because I am a moderate. I get hit from the right because I'm not far right and, you know, when you're in that crosshair it's a challenging time," Lincoln said, signaling a tough year ahead for her.

UT Senate -- Bennett Getting Clubbed: The Club for Growth has begun robocalling in Utah against Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, who is facing multiple primary challengers. The call asks voters to "vote for a change" in two weeks at the precinct caucuses, where delegates will be chosen and later tasked with selecting the party's Senate nominee.

Lincoln's First Ad: "I Don't Answer To My Party"

She now has a primary on her hands, but Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (D-AR) first TV ad of the campaign indicates she has no problem running against both Washington and her own party.

In the ad, which touts Lincoln as "One Tough Lady," the senator touts her votes against Wall Street and auto company bailouts, cap and trade, and the public option.

"None of those were right for Arkansas," she says. "Some in my party didn't like it very much. But I approve this message because I don't answer to my party. I answer to Arkansas."

UPDATE: As Lincoln distances herself from the party, it looks like some key constituencies in the party continue to distance themselves from her. Check out what Ellen Malcolm of EMILY's List wrote today:

Continue reading "Lincoln's First Ad: "I Don't Answer To My Party"" »

Arkansas Senate Candidate Bill Halter (D) Interview

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who's challenging Sen. Blanche Lincoln, spoke with RealClearPolitics yesterday -- one day after announcing his bid. Halter struck a populist tone during the interview, and showed that he will be highlighting his signature piece of legislation, the state scholarship lottery, throughout the campaign.

When RCP noted that it's pretty rare for an incumbent senator to lose a primary, Halter responded: "In terms of the ability to go out and win -- this is why you have campaigns. You go out and you take your issues to voters, and you put them out there and people respond or they don't. But so far they are responding extremely well."

Halter has some fundraising to do, though he reportedly already has significant fundraising pledges from progressive and labor groups. Lincoln had $5 million in the bank at the beginning of the year.

Read the entire interview here.

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter Challenging Sen. Lincoln

Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) now has far more to worry about than just Republican challengers in November. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter announced this morning in a video on his campaign Web site that he is taking on the second-term senator in the Democratic primary.

"Right now, Washington is not working for Arkansas families. But it ought to," Halter says in the video as he steps out of his pickup truck. "If you want your government dedicated to helping middle class families rather than protecting special interests, then join my campaign."

In his announcement, Halter describes his work in Bill Clinton's presidential administration helping balance the federal budget, and helping establish the "scholarship lottery program" as second in command in Arkansas. He says "it's past time to put more Arkansas values in Washington."

The primary takes place May 18.

Several Republicans had already lined up to challenge Lincoln, who either trails or statistically ties each in the polls.

Report: Boozman Challenging Sen. Lincoln

Arkansas Rep. John Boozman (R) will challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) this year, Roll Call reports. Boozman said last week he was considering a bid, but the new report states he's definitely in.

"Boozman already has much of his Senate campaign team in place, and the announcement is expected to take place in Arkansas before the weekend is out," Roll Call reports.

Considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, Lincoln announced yesterday she raised $1.3 million in the 4th fundraising quarter of 2009 and has $5 million in the bank to begin the year. A Mason-Dixon poll released Friday showed Lincoln within 6 points of five different potential challengers, none of which were Boozman.

Boozman, serving his fourth full term in the House, is the lone Repbulican in the state's six-member congressional delegation. Two other Arkansas congressmen, Democrats Marion Berry and Vic Snyder, have already announced they are not seeking re-election this year, meaning three of the four congressional districts will have new representation next year.

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AR Sen Poll: Lincoln Faces Stiff Challenge

Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (D-Ark.) re-election campaign is running into some stiff headwinds. Once thought to be relatively safe, a new poll from Mason Dixon (625 RVs, 1/18-20, MoE +/- 4%) commissioned by the Arkansas News Bureau and Stephens Media shows that Lincoln trails tw potential Republican foes, and scores just above 40 in matchups with others.

General Election Matchups
Baker 43 -- Lincoln 39 -- Und 18
Holt 43 -- Lincoln 37 -- Und 20
Lincoln 40 -- Coleman 39 -- Und 21
Lincoln 41 -- Reynolds 38 -- Und 21
Lincoln 43 -- Hendren 38 -- Und 19
Lincoln 41 -- Cox 38 -- Und 21

"If we stopped the game today and held the election even though nobody knows who all the Republicans are, I think she'd be hard-pressed to get 45 percent of the vote," Mason Dixon's J. Brad Coker tells the ANB.

Lincoln is also facing some potential primary challenges, from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and state Senate Pres. Pro Tem Bob Johnson. She leads both potential matchups among a smaller sample (303 RVs, MoE +/- 6%)

Primary Election Matchups
Lincoln 52 -- Halter 34
Lincoln 63 -- Johnson 22

(Post updated to correct numbers in Holt-Lincoln matchup)

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AR Sen Poll: Lincoln Trails Four GOPers

Four Republican opponents lead Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) in potential general election matchups, according to a new Rasmussen survey. On top of trailing each Republican by at least 8 points and never reaching even 40% support, 55% say they hold an unfavorable opinion of the second-term senator.

Those tested against Lincoln include: State Senate Minority Leader Kim Hendren; State Sen. Gilbert Baker, a former state GOP chair; Safe Foods CEO Curtis Coleman; and Tom Cox, a Tea Party organizer.

Hendren 47 - Lincoln 39 - Und 10

Baker 51 - Lincoln 39 - Und 7

Coleman 48 - Lincoln 38 - Und 9

Cox 48 - Lincoln 38 - Und 9

Health care could be weighing down Lincoln, who supported Senate Democrats' reform bill in the Christmas Eve vote. The survey found just 35% of Arkansas voters support the proposal.

AR Sen Poll: Lincoln Trailing GOP Foes

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) continues to trail in her bid for re-election, a new Rasmussen poll (500 LVs, 12/1, MoE +/- 4.5%) finds today.

General Election Matchups
Hendren 46 (+2 vs. last poll, 9/28)
Lincoln 39 (-2)
Und 9 (-1)

Baker 47 (unch)
Lincoln 41 (+2)
Und 7 (+1)

Coleman 44 (+1)
Lincoln 40 (-1)
Und 9 (-2)

Cox 43 (unch)
Lincoln 40 (unch)
Und 10 (-1)

Lincoln's numbers have not changed dramatically since she cast a key vote to bring health care legislation to the floor of the Senate. But Rasmussen finds that 56 percent of Arkansans are strongly opposed to the Democrats' plan; 9 percent somewhat oppose, while only 32 percent strongly or somewhat favor it. Lincoln leads her potential challengers among voters who support the plan, but trails by more than 50 points among voters who strongly oppose it.

Favorable Ratings
Lincoln 43 / 52
Hendren 41 / 19
Baker 40 / 19
Coleman 37 / 22
Cox 41 / 19

President Obama also fares poorly in the state, with just a 34 percent approval rating. A potential boost to Lincoln could be the strong performance of Gov. Mike Beebe (D) who'll be at the top of the ticket -- he has a 70 percent approval rating.

Lincoln Leads, But Sub-50%

A new Daily Kos/Research2000 survey finds Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) leading potential Republican opponents, though she carries just a 43% approval rating against a 49% disapproval (Sept. 8-10, 600 LV, MoE +/- 4%).

Many expect the two-term senator to receive a boost after winning the Agriculture Committee chairmanship last week, but she appears headed for a competitive re-election nonetheless. That's a far cry from her fellow Arkansas senator, Mark Pryor, who faced no GOP opposition last year. Other approval ratings for Democrats in the state: Pryor 50 percent, Gov. Mike Beebe 66 percent, and President Obama 41 percent.

Lincoln wins as little as 44% support against State Sen. Gilbert Baker, who is an unknown to 73 percent of voters. State Sen. Kim Hendren and businessmen Curtis Coleman and Tom Cox have even less name ID, yet enough undecided voters keep Lincoln sub-50%.

Lincoln 44 - Baker 37 - Und 19
Lincoln 45 - Coleman 37 - Und 18
Lincoln 46 - Cox 29 - Und 25
Lincoln 47 - Hendren 28 - Und 25

GOP Can't Find AR Candidate

Despite promises that a candidate was on the way, Republicans in Arkansas failed to field a challenger against first-term Democrat Mark Pryor. Yesterday was the deadline for filing for office, and the Arkansas Republican Party chairman announced no candidate from his party would file. That leaves Pryor facing Green Party candidate Rebekah Kennedy, virtually assuring him of re-election.

In a strong Republican year in 2002, Pryor was one of Democrats' few bright spots, knocking off incumbent Senator Tim Hutchinson by a 54%-46% margin. This year, Pryor, the son of former Senator David Pryor, whose seat Hutchinson had taken upon the elder's retirement, had stockpiled $3.6 million for his re-election bid, scaring away a number of potentially strong challengers.

National Republicans held out hope of recruiting one-time presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the state's former governor, though he repeatedly demurred. The fact that Republicans could not field a challenger, though, is another blow to a party already wounded by what looks to be a terribly unfavorable landscape. Failing to find challengers for a sitting Senator, including one in a state that voted twice for President Bush and elected Huckabee statewide several times, is not the way to attract new donors.

The GOP has been particularly hard-hit in the state, losing every statewide contest in 2006, including the governor's mansion by a whopping 14 points. Democrats hold big margins in both houses of the state legislature, as well as three of the four Arkansas Congressional districts.

The omission helps national Democrats, as well: Pryor, instead of spending time worried about his own re-election chances, can now spend the rest of 2008 working for and raising money for other Democrats around the country.