Washington (CNN) –- Two major unions late Tuesday night defended their decisions to support Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Senate Democratic primary.
Despite the financial and grassroots support of the Service Employees International Union, AFL-CIO, other unions and liberal activists, Halter was unable to defeat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the runoff election.
Statement from SEIU President Mary Kay Henry on tonight’s primary runoff election results in Arkansas:
“All around this country, there are hard-hit families worrying about how to pay next month’s mortgage or rent. They are using credit cards to pay for basics like food and utility bills. They are watching their hours cut and more and more jobs disappear. And they are looking for leaders who are going to stand by their side to turn the tide that is threatening to engulf American workers.
“Tonight, Sen. Lincoln won a narrow victory after a bruising runoff election where each and every day she was reminded that her success is only measured by doing right by working people and their families.
“Working families all over Arkansas supported Lt. Governor Bill Halter’s bid to be their Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate because he spoke up for them and the issues that matter: jobs, financial reform and making this economy work again for people who work.
“The tens of thousands of volunteers and activists have made their point loud and clear: If you stop fighting for working families, working families will stop fighting for you.”
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) – 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) – Incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln is pulling out the big guns in her bid to defeat a hard charging challenger in the Arkansas Democratic Senate run-off.
Now just four days away from her showdown with Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, Lincoln's newest campaign ad features former President Bill Clinton – the favorite son of Arkansan Democrats.
The two-term senator is locked in a tight run-off with Halter after neither candidate cracked the 50-percent mark in the May 18 primary.
Clinton made an appearance with Lincoln at a campaign event last Friday in Little Rock, and the new 30-second spot features video of Clinton quoting from a Washington Post article that said that national labor unions had decided to make Lincoln "the poster child for what happens when a Democrat crosses them."
Titled "The President," the ad closes with Clinton telling the crowd that "if you want to be Arkansas' advocate, vote for somebody that will fight for you."
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.