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More bad news for Arkansas' embattled Blanche Lincoln -- a new Democrat, and he drives a truck

March 1, 2010 |  9:38 am

Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln at a Senate Finance hearing on health care Oct. 1, 2009

Blanche Lincoln is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the Senate -- a moderate Democrat who annoyed voters at home by providing a decisive vote to move healthcare reform forward. Amid high unemployment and growing tea-party anger, polls show her trailing a pack of opponents in the GOP primary, led by Rep. John Boozman and state Sen. Gilbert Baker.

And Monday, a progressive Democrat threw his hat in the ring in that party's primary. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is not only a fresh face, he drives a truck. Remember Massachusetts' Scott Brown? Halter is too liberal to parrot Brown's message against healthcare, but he's clearly picked up on the current imperative to look like a Washington outsider -- even though he spent six years working in President Clinton's Office of Management and Budget. His message now: Washington's broken.

One thing is sure: that $5 million Lincoln has in her campaign coffers, once envisioned for a hard-fought general election, could be depleted in the primary against Halter.

Maybe that's one reason Republicans seemed delighted by Monday's developments. "Lincoln and Halter are both completely out of step with Arkansas’ mainstream values," said Amber Wilkinson of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Arkansans are tired of the status quo under the Obama administration, and they are looking to elect a senator who will fight for much-needed checks and balances in Washington this November."

All of this is good news for Detroit, and about time. The 2010 midterm elections are shaping up to be just the boon the automobile industry needs, at least in truck sales.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Credit: Associated Press

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