Halter versus Lincoln in Arkansas

Regarding Bill Halter’s primary challenge to Arkansas Blue Dog Blanche Lincoln:

1.) Anyone named Bill Halter is almost guaranteed to constantly obstruct legislation.

(I know. LAME. But I couldn’t resist.)

2.) I’m actually profoundly ambivalent about the whole thing. I mean, in principle, I wish we saw a lot more of the grassroots using primaries as a way to put more pressure on Blue Dogs (and force out the really bad ones). But in Arkansas? I have a hard time imagining anyone even one millimeter to the left of Blanche Lincoln could take that seat, and if a leftward challenger did best her in the primary, that would basically mean a freebie for the GOP in 2010.

But after listening to the opinions of very smart people and holding on the topic, I think I’ve come to my own convoluted deeply nuanced position.

Basically, I like Halter, for obvious reasons. And I’m willing to root for him to beat Lincoln in the primary, because Nate Silver says either of them would lose the general. Think of the NY-23 race; the Tea Party candidate lost that in the general, but it was still a victory for the far right because they demonstrated that they had the power to put enormous pressure on moderate Republican candidates. Taking out Lincoln in Arkansas may have the same effect.

That being said, I think the White House is doing the right thing in backing Lincoln. Let the grassroots support her opponent, but if Obama and the DNC didn’t show their support for Lincoln, then she’d have no incentive to vote for health care reform before the election. And make no mistake: passing health care reform is the single most important thing the Democratic caucus can get done before the midterms, both in terms of slowing their own bleeding and, y’know, also unfucking the country and its millions of suffering uninsured.

Now if only I could fit all of that onto a bumper sticker.

2 Responses

  1. Arkansas may surprise us. It elected Bill Clinton governor, and, earlier, the great Senator Fullbright, the democrat who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and continued to challenge Lyndon Johnson on the War in Viet Nam.

  2. I’m not so sure. Gubernatorial elections tend to go blue in red states more frequently than Senate elections, and the mood in which Fullbright was elected is totally different from the way the national trend is going now. There’s no way the Democrats are going to hold all their seats, and this is one of the first ones I would expect to go.

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