Knowledgeable observers have given the Republican Party a very good chance of unseating incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). But it looks like they may not get a chance to do so – a challenge from Lincoln’s left within her own party seems to be gaining strength rapidly.
The echo had barely ceased from Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s announcement that he will challenge Lincoln for the Democratic nomination before national organizations with political interest have started pledging to spend on Halter’s behalf.
MoveOn.org has taken in over $600K in small donations for this specific race already, and is hoping to get $1M before the week is out.
Key labor union AFL-CIO has come out even stronger for Halter, pledging $3M to assist his effort to defeat Lincoln.
According to blog TPMDC, Lincoln has $5M salted away for the 2010 campaign. The Arkansas primary is scheduled for 5/18/10.
Elections watchdog OpenSecrets.org doesn’t have Halter on its Senate list yet, but it does list 14 candidates trying to take on Lincoln, including 11 Republicans, two independents and one Democrat. Five of the candidates have $0 in financing reported, but four of the Republicans boast over $100K; in fact, two of them have more than $200K; and the leader, Arkansas State Senator Gilbert Baker, has more than $800K.
RBR-TVBR observation: With serious primary money apparently coming into the state on the Democratic side and a contested November ballot berth on the Republican side as well, followed by what should be a very hotly contested general election battle, prospects for extra political cash in this state are looking pretty good.
We doubt that Lincoln was anticipating having to dip too deeply into her warchest during the spring. Her spending calculus has to have changed now, which may lead to renewed fund-raising on her part, potentially adding even more cash to the windfall should she survive May 18th.