Little Rock, Arkansas (CNN) – Democrats have held the Senate seat that is currently up for grabs in Arkansas for 131 years. Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter hope to keep it that way. But the two Democrats are battling over who deserves to keep their party's streak going.
On Tuesday, Halter cast an early morning vote for himself. But Lincoln experienced a bit of a mix up: election officials had her listed as already voting absentee. Lincoln's campaign says the senator requested an absentee ballot but never filled it out. They expect for the issue to be resolved.
The potentially pivotal primary is attracting national attention. Lincoln, seeking a third term and endorsed by President Obama, is running as a moderate Democrat who prides herself on finding pragmatic solutions, even if it puts her at odds with her party. Halter, backed by several labor unions, has flanked his campaign to the left of the senator and supports many positions that liberals identify with.
A third candidate, Arkansas businessman DC Morrison, has very little name ID in the state and polls show low support for him.
Lincoln led in several polls ahead of the primary election. But support for Morrison could pull away votes from her and force a run-off next month between the top two vote getters. A candidate would have to receive at least 50-percent of the vote in the primary to avoid a run-off.
With hopes of reaching that threshold, both candidates continued campaigning on Tuesday, touting their positives to voters. Among the points Lincoln often makes is that her chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry benefits Arkansas farmers and that she is currently fighting to hold Wall Street accountable amid the debate over financial reform.
For his part, Halter mentions his efforts to establish a state-run lottery in Arkansas, where proceeds help provide educational scholarships, his experience in the public and private sectors, and Halter casts himself as agent of change.
But the battle for the Democratic nomination has also turned ugly. Among the slams, the Lincoln campaign claims that Halter is a creature of interests that lie outside of Arkansas – something he denies. And Halter insists that Lincoln is a captive of special interests – something she denies.
Critics also derided Lincoln as "Bailout Blanche" because of her vote for the financial bailout, have blasted her opposition to the public option in the health care bill, and her later vote against the reconciliation package. Lincoln voted for the bill that ultimately emerged from the Senate, lacking a public option.
Halter critics previously called him "Dollar Bill," claiming he outsourced jobs to India as a businessman and claimed that he wants to raise Social Security taxes and cut benefits.
Ultimately, voters will decide who should represent Arkansas, considering the candidates' positions on those and other issues.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face off against one of eight Republicans, also facing a primary on Tuesday. Rep. John Boozman leads in most recent polls, but he could be forced into a runoff next month.