Arkansas lieutenant governor to challenge Lincoln in primary

By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter announced Monday that he will challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the state's May primary, a decision touted by liberal Democrats as a watershed moment in attempts to demonstrate their displeasure with the way the party has conducted itself over the past year.

"I think it's safe to say that with overwhelming Democratic majorities, progressives expected more than the train wreck we've gotten," said Steve Hildebrand, a Democratic strategist who played a significant role in the early stages of President Obama's 2008 campaign but has expressed frequent disappointment with the administration.

For Lincoln, Halter's candidacy further complicates a reelection bid imperiled by the ongoing fight over reforming the health-care system. Lincoln's opposition to including the "public option" in a Senate bill inflamed liberals, and her vote for final passage of that legislation stoked anger among Republicans.

Recent polls have shown Lincoln trailing a little-known Republican field led by Rep. John Boozman and her being potentially vulnerable to a challenge from within the Democratic Party.

In a video announcing his plans, Halter, first elected as lieutenant governor in 2006, seemed to offer a critique not just of the Democratic incumbent but also of the Obama administration.

"Washington is broken," Halter said, picking up on an anti-Washington theme that helped Republican Scott Brown score a stunning upset in a Massachusetts Senate special election last month.

"Bailing out Wall Street with no strings attached . . . protecting insurance company profits instead of patients."

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