June 8th, 2010
01:41 PM ET
12 years ago

Lincoln sounds note of party unity

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.

Standing on the side of the road near a polling station here, Lincoln conceded she may not have fully appreciated the depths of this year's wave against incumbents, but insists she does now.

"I would say that we may have underestimated the anti-incumbent mood," Lincoln said.

"I think people are angry. They're enormously frustrated with Washington and I am too. I think they're frustrated without a doubt at our lack of results, and that happens."

Over and over, the moderate Democrat decries what she calls the special interests who have come to Arkansas to spend millions of dollars to defeat her.

Many of those "special interests" are traditional supporters of Democrats who are unhappy with Lincoln, who is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate.

The biggest of those forces working against Lincoln is organized labor, which, according to union sources, descended on Arkansas with some $6 million worth of television and radio ads and have had members make more than 700,000 phone calls against Lincoln.

Those union sources make crystal clear their goal is to make an example out of Lincoln for not supporting some of their priorities, like the public health insurance option which did not make the cut as part of Democrats' health care law. They want to use this effort as a warning to other Democrats that they cross unions at their own peril.

Lincoln tells CNN that some had suggested to her that she respond to that by switching parties, but said "absolutely not."

"I believe in who Democrats are and what our Democratic Party stands for," said Lincoln. "What does it mean for our country if we're going to allow special interest groups that polarize so much in this country that we get nothing done."

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination for Senate here, multiple party sources concede it will be hard to keep the seat out of GOP hands in this conservative state, especially in such a tough political climate for Democrats.

In an interview with CNN Monday, Halter suggested he would be the better candidate to run against Republican Jim Boozman. Why? Because Halter is already running an anti-Washington campaign, and Boozman is a sitting congressman who voted for the unpopular Wall Street bailout.

"I'm running anywhere from 5 to 11 points better against Congressman Boozman in the polls and I think the reasons for that are that I've been very independent here, willing to stand up to special interests," Halter told CNN.

When Lincoln heard that argument her reaction was visceral.

"What does that mean? That's just a slogan," said Lincoln.

But Democratic Party sources have quietly suggested to CNN that if Halter should defeat Lincoln, it may not be that bad for Democrats if there truly is a national wave against Washington.

Lincoln scoffed at that as well.

"Call me old fashioned but I think its more important to talk about who we are and what we want to be as a nation as opposed to just fighting these petty battles of throw the suckers out and start all over again," said Lincoln.

She'll find out when polls close Tuesday whether members of her own party agree.

Filed under: 2010 • Arkansas • Bill Halter • Blanche Lincoln
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. LacrosseMom (the real one)

    Ms. Lincoln, it is a bit too late to speak about party unity. Where were you when the Healthcare vote was taken? Oh yeah....... on the GOP side! Of all state's Arkansas needs the Healthcare Bill, since so many live in poverty or on a Working class income.

    Blanche Lincoln is not a Democrat.

    June 8, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. TCM

    Sorry Blanche...you screwed the nation...and now you'll pay...go be a greeter at Wal-Mart. I think it's a hoot how the comments were quickly closed for the "Obama preaching to the senior citizens about healthcare," article...except for the brainwashed drone Dominican Mama for Obama....must be a government staffer...

    June 8, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. Richard

    Lincoln still doesn't get it. It is not an 'anti-incumbent mood;' it is that she voted as a Republican on very important Democratic legislation. She says "I am a Democrat;" no you are not a Democrat when you conspire with Republicans to kill health insurance reform.

    June 8, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. goons

    Hope she wins, just to spite the unions. screw liberals.;

    June 8, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
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