(CNN) - Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln won the Democratic primary Tuesday night, beating back a challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in this high profile contest that exposed a rift between the liberal and centrist wings of the Democratic Party.
Lincoln was targeted by national unions and liberal activists, who accused the Arkansas Democrat of turning her back on them as well as failing to support President Obama's policy goals.
The Lincoln critics found their candidate in Halter and poured millions of dollars into Arkansas. Halter officially announced his candidacy in March making the primary a sprint, not a marathon.
With the help of these outside activists, the lieutenant governor forced Lincoln into this June runoff election after she failed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote in last month's primary.
Little Rock, Arkansas (CNN) - Big oil Blanche? Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln mocked an attempt by her political opponents in the final stretch of the state's runoff election to blame her for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"You know it's amazing to me that all of the sudden I am now the reason for the oil spill," Lincoln told reporters after voting in Little Rock on Tuesday. "I can't figure out for the life of me where that has come from other than just that these outside interest groups and others want to put negative outside advertising out there about me and try and mislead voters. I am certainly not part of that problem in the Gulf."
A television ad airing in Arkansas sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund this week links Lincoln with campaign contributions from oil companies and highlights her support for offshore drilling.
The ad calls the campaign donations "another gusher" and maintains that Lincoln has taken more money in the last two years than any other senator, and a half-million dollars since she was elected. With a BP logo prominently displayed on the screen, the television ad argues that Lincoln "got that money because she helped Bush and Cheney give oil companies 14 million in tax breaks or maybe because she voted to allow risky offshore drilling for BP and others. It's time to send big oil a message. On Tuesday send big oil packing."
The environmental group also created a website targeting Lincoln, labeling her "big oil Blanche."
Little Rock, Arkansas (CNN) – Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas, began the day that could end her Senate career insisting she feels good about pulling off a win, but also vowing to support her Democratic opponent should he snatch the party's nomination.
"I'll always support the Democratic Party of Arkansas. I'm a Democrat," Lincoln told CNN in an interview at her first stop of the day to greet voters.
For the past three weeks, Lincoln has been locked in a runoff against her Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov Bill Halter, trying to avoid becoming the latest incumbent lawmaker torched by anti-Washington fever.
Little Rock, Arkansas (CNN) - Log on to Blanche Lincoln's campaign website and you will see a detailed, county-by-county list of money and programs the two-term Democratic senator has secured for Arkansas.
Usually that "look-what-I've-done-for-you-lately" pitch can help embattled incumbents assuage voters' concerns. But this election year is anything but usual.
Lincoln is trying to avoid becoming the third sitting Democratic lawmaker this year to be defeated by a fellow Democrat in a primary battle, but Democratic sources in Washington and Arkansas tell CNN they're not sure she can pull off a win Tuesday.
Her challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, forced moderate Lincoln into a runoff not by coming at her from the left, but from the outside - with a classic 2010 anti-Washington message.
Listen: University of Arkansas political scientist on Lincoln-Halter race
Subscribe to the CNN Radio Political Notebook podcast on iTunes
"Arkansans around the state are telling me that they want a change, and they know that if you send the same people to Washington, you're guaranteed to get the same results," Halter said during a weekend campaign stop.
(CNN) – With only days left until her political future is decided in Arkansas’ Senate Democratic primary runoff, incumbent Blanche Lincoln criticized her opponent and defended her moderate record which has drawn fire from both conservatives and liberals during this midterm election year.
“I’m up against a lot,” Lincoln said on CNN’s State of the Union after detailing the significant support her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, has received from unions and liberal groups.
Related: Halter coy on union issues
Asked by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley about the voter anger that has been directed at her from both conservatives and liberals, Lincoln said the challenges she is facing in her re-election bid are part of a wider political trend.
“I think they are angry at Washington,” she told Crowley, “and I think they are frustrated.”
And the two-term senator sought to both assume the mantle of change, which brought President Obama to office and has now become a rising tide targeting Lincoln and other incumbents, and to defend her record of moderate views.
“The fact is, I have been a part of change in Washington,” Lincoln said. “That's why I first went to Washington. I started groups like the Blue Dogs and the New Democrats in the Senate. I am very much a moderate. I was one of the senators that helped to bring down the cost of the stimulus package and so many other things that I felt like were very much in tune with what Arkansas wanted to see.”
(CNN) – Even though his upstart Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln has been powered by union support, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter was coy Sunday when asked about his union backing and the Employee Free Choice Act (or “card check” bill), a piece of legislation backed by some of the country’s largest and most influential unions.
Halter has the been the beneficiary of unions’ ire directed at Lincoln for her failure to support passage of the card check bill and for her decision not to support a public insurance option as part of Democrats’ health care bill. Unions favor the card check bill because they believe it will make it easier for workers to unionize and, for many years, unions have been concerned about the rising costs of health care because of the role those costs have played in their collective bargaining with employers.
Lincoln and former President Bill Clinton, who backs the incumbent senator, have criticized the union involvement in Arkansas’ politics – involvement that has included millions of dollars in advertising buys, a flood of mail pieces, and aggressive canvassing efforts all intended to take down Lincoln.
Related: 'I'm up against a lot,' says Lincoln
Asked by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley about the union involvement and the criticism it has received, Halter called the topic a “diversion from the real issues” in his race against Lincoln.
“The real issue in this race is who’s going to stand up for middle class Arkansas families,” Halter said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Halter added, “Now I know that the national media wants to put this into a left-right framework because that’s a very simple thing to pull down. But really what’s going on in the state is very different from that.”
“ . . . And, so, this whole left-right framework candidly – if you went down the street here in Arkansas and ask folks about it, they’re not going to tell you that, that’s what the race is about.”
Asked whether he supports passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Halter chose instead to delineate a set of principles he backs.
Washington (CNN) – An impassioned Bill Clinton campaigned for Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s re-election on Friday, telling voters the Democrat “has worked her heart out” on behalf of Arkansas in the Senate.
And, using very harsh words, Clinton accused national labor unions campaigning for Lincoln’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, of trying to manipulate Arkansas voters to “terrify” other Democrats in Congress into cowering to union demands.
Clinton appeared at an event at a historically black college in Little Rock with Lincoln. The two-term senator is locked in a tight run-off with Halter for the Democratic Senate nomination after neither candidate cracked the 50-percent mark in a May 18 primary.
The run-off will be held June 8.
At the Little Rock event, Clinton praised Lincoln while training his fire at labor unions that have poured money and manpower into the race to help Halter.
Reading from a Washington Post article that quoted a national labor union leader saying that forcing Lincoln to “fight this kind of fight” might make other senators “think twice about it,” Clinton said that national labor unions had decided to make Lincoln “the poster child for what happens when a Democrat crosses them.”
“In other words, this is about using you and manipulating your votes to terrify members of Congress and members of the Senate from other states,” Clinton told the crowd. “Now if you want to be used that way, have at it.”
(CNN) - Bill Clinton heads back to Arkansas Friday to try and help out a fellow Democrat battling for her political life.
The former president and former Arkansas governor will campaign with Sen. Blanche Lincoln at an event in downtown Little Rock.
The two-term senator will face off against Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a June 8 runoff election in the battle for the Democratic nomination. Lincoln won 44.5 percent of the vote in last week's Democratic Senate primary, with Halter, who's made gains with the help of union and progressive groups as he challenges Lincoln, grabbing 42.5 percent, and conservative Democrat DC Morrison at 13 percent. Since no candidate won a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two candidates is necessary.
"I'm extremely grateful for President Clinton's support in this campaign and look forward to our 'Countdown to Victory' kickoff event," says Lincoln, in an e-mail released by her campaign.
Washington (CNN) - Fresh fundraising numbers might spell trouble for Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. The Democrat raised less money in the last filing period than run-off opponent, Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter.
Both campaigns released campaign finance reports on Thursday.
For the period between April 29 thru May 19, Lincoln's net contributions totaled $552,289.91. Halter raked in $777,119.94. That means Halter outpaced Lincoln by just over $224,830.
Most of Lincoln's total - nearly $233,000 - came from political committees, such as PACS. Just over $319,000 came from individuals.
In contrast, most of Halter's funds - just over $753,000 - came from individuals, whereas just over $24,000 came from political committees.
While Halter may have won this fundraising cycle, Lincoln has the clear edge in cash on hand – holding just over $1.5 million than Halter. The lieutenant governor entered the race just over 12 weeks ago.