AR-Sen: The state of play
by desmoinesdem, Fri May 21, 2010 at 12:28:44 PM EDT
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees will spend $1.4 million in Arkansas before the June 8 runoff Democratic primary election between Senator Blanche Lincoln and Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.
The union is sending about 50 staffers to Arkansas for the race's last three weeks, with a particular focus on rallying African-American voters behind Halter, the president, Gerald McEntee, said, describing an independent expenditure campaign on a scale likely to dominate the state's airwaves.
McEntee also told Ben Smith that AFSCME wants to send "a shot across the bow of other Democrats" who may be considering voting against labor interests the way Lincoln has. (To cite one example, Lincoln is among several Senate Democrats who voted for the Employee Free Choice Act in 2007 but backed away from it under a Democratic president.)
Lincoln's biggest weapon in the runoff campaign is President Bill Clinton, who plans to return to Arkansas to campaign for her on May 28. She will also tout the strong language on regulating derivatives that she pushed as part of the financial reform bill just approved in the Senate.
Halter finished only slightly behind Lincoln in the May 18 primary, with 43 percent of the vote to Lincoln's 45 percent. Conservative Democrat D.C. Morrison won about 13 percent and has said he won't endorse a candidate in the runoff. Halter gained rapidly on Lincoln in the past month:
Momentum is with Halter, and even with Bill Clinton behind her, it won't be easy for Lincoln to turn things around. That said, I wouldn't get too excited about the overnight survey Democracy for America commissioned from Research 2000, which showed Halter ahead of Lincoln among likely runoff voters. Over at Pollster.com, Mark Blumenthal argues that the question wording and order in that poll may have "primed" respondents to support Halter. Markos Moulitsas says Daily Kos will commission another Research 2000 poll of the Arkansas race next week, presumably asking the vote preference question before any issue questions.
Any thoughts on the Arkansas race are welcome in this thread. I'm supporting Halter not only because he is a better Democrat, but also because he polls better against Republican John Boozman. Even with Halter as the nominee, Boozman would be favored to win this seat, though.