Sen. Blanche Lincoln Faces Tough Runoff Battle in Arkansas

Rampant anti-incumbent sentiment puts pressure on Arkansas senator.

ByABC News
June 4, 2010, 2:51 PM

June 7, 2010— -- Incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is pulling out all the stops for the primary runoff elections in what has become the toughest political battle of her career.

The Arkansas senator on Friday unveiled a television ad featuring former president Bill Clinton stumping for her at a rally in Little Rock, Ark., more than a week ago.

Lincoln has come under fire from national labor unions for voting for the bank bailout and opposing the option of a government-run insurance plan in the health care bill and the Employee Free Choice Act or card check, a high priority for the labor movement.

Labor unions have pumped millions of dollars into the Democratic primary campaign of her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who they say is less aligned with corporate interests.

Clinton had strong backing from labor unions during his time as Arkansas governor and as president. But speaking for Lincoln, he painted the race as one between Lincoln and labor unions in Washington. Citing a Washington Post article, the outspoken president said some unions had made Lincoln the "poster child" for what happens when a Democrat crosses them.

"This is about using you and manipulating your votes. If you want to be Arkansas's advocate, vote for somebody who will fight for you. Vote for Blanche Lincoln," Clinton said at the rally.

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Clinton's appearance provided a much-needed boost to Lincoln's campaign, analysts say, but it's not clear whether it will be enough on Tuesday.

"It's really tight, too close to call. Everyone is really working their last efforts," said Democratic strategist Robert McLarty. "With President Clinton in town last week [Lincoln] got a pretty good boost from his visit and his comments. However, the field activities and the door-to-door activities from outside groups -- SEIU, some of those big unions that are playing pretty big here for Halter -- have really been working the ground."

Despite her moderate record, being a Democrat in Republican-trending Arkansas in the current political environment made Lincoln one of the most vulnerable incumbent Democrats up for re-election this year.