[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/01/art.lincoln0901.gi.jpg caption="A Republican Arkansas state senator has announced his bid to challenge the state's incumben Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln, pictured."]
(CNN) - The former chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party said Tuesday he's planning to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
"I have decided that during this important time in our nation's history, one should not be a political spectator," Arkansas State Sen. Gilbert Baker said in a statement announcing his primary bid for the 2010 nomination, pledging to help provide "checks and balances on the policies being pushed by President Obama and the D.C. leadership."
Lincoln has long been a top 2010 Republican target. Amber Wilkerson, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, praised Baker's move Tuesday, calling it "another indication that Blanche Lincoln is facing an uphill battle in her quest for re-election in 2010."
A campaign spokesman for Lincoln had no comment on Baker or other potential GOP challengers - but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee signaled a tough fight ahead for the challenger if he captures the Republican nod. "As Baker's record comes under close examination, the people of Arkansas will find a Little Rock insider who repeatedly puts his own self-interest above those he has pledged to serve," said Eric Schultz, the DSCC's communications director.