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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln forced into runoff against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter

Voters sure are in a feisty, anti-incumbent mood tonight.

In another blow to the D.C. political establishment, the Democratic electorate in Arkansas refused to give incumbent Senator Corporate Proxy Blanche Lincoln the support she needed to avoid a runoff election in three weeks.

Instead, a majority of Arkansas Democrats cast a vote for one of Lincoln's two biggest rivals: Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter (who currently trails Lincoln very narrowly) and businessman D.C. Morrison.

UPDATE: Results as of midnight Pacific:

Democratic primary for U.S. Senate
Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter: 42.41% (109,504 votes)
U.S. Senator Blanche Lambert Lincoln: 44.04% (113,718 votes)
D.C. Morrison: 13.55% (34,996 votes)

In Arkansas, if a frontrunner fails to capture more than fifty percent of the vote in the primary, he or she moves on to a runoff election three weeks later with his or her top challenger. That means people-powered champion Bill Halter has three more weeks to pound away at Blanche Lincoln, who had been hoping to sew up the nomination tonight. Whoever gets the most votes on June 8th will be the Democratic standard bearer for U.S. Senate in the Natural State.

Both Halter and Lincoln claimed victory in appearances before supporters at parties in Little Rock, the state's capital and largest city. Halter spoke first:
In remarks earlier Tuesday, Halter said a runoff would be a victory for him because he is not the incumbent.

"At three weeks from today, we're going to finish the job," Halter said to loud applause.

He called this a "very, very good night" with results looking "absolutely great."

"Today you proved that your vote and not their money are going to determine the future of Arkansas and the future of America," Halter said.
Lincoln wasn't far behind:
Flanked by her husband, her two sons and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, Lincoln entered a ballroom full of supporters at the Holiday Inn Presidential Center shortly after 10:30 p.m. Lincoln told her supporters she surged to win more votes than Halter after being "written off" a month ago.

"But tonight we have proved by winning the popular vote we cannot be written off and we wont' be," she said. "Tonight we begin out countdown to victory, folks."
Written off? Um, say what? Lincoln had the D.C. establishment — from the White House to the Chamber of Commerce to former President Clinton — on her side. She's not the underdog, Halter is.

And as for the popular vote, Lincoln may have captured a plurality, but she doesn't have a majority. That's why she's heading to a runoff.

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall observes:
Lincoln is speaking right now. And I must say, she's got the sound of a loser in this speech. She seems kind of shell-shocked. She started off saying that she'd been written off and now is back. But I mean, that's not true. The consensus was that she'd win tonight with a good margin and quite possibly win outright and avoid a run-off. Now she's got a real fight on her hands.
Indeed. Lincoln is in serious trouble; Halter's supporters have every reason to feel even more energized and turn out again for him in three weeks. Lincoln is not running a grassroots campaign, so she faces the challenge of trying to convince the party's faithful to back her in a low turnout election.

It would sure be something if organized people could beat organized money on June 8th, and throw a monkey wrench into the machinery of our country's powerful and corrupt incumbent protection racket.


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