The Arkansas incumbent seemed to have a good plan for reelection, until yesterday
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., thought he was so clever. As usual, the Connecticut senator has been trying to straddle the line between the reformist liberal he imagines himself to be and the servant of special interests that he actually is. So he waited until what seemed like just the right moment to kill off the strict derivatives reform proposed by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.: her primary day.
Lincoln was clearly — ahem — banking on this idea to shore up her populist credentials. So Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, couldn’t shut it down until her primary challenge had run its course, despite the hatred directed at the proposal by Washington and Wall Street’s wise men. Otherwise, he’d be pulling the plug on the reelection campaign of a fellow incumbent Democrat.
Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans. Dodd announces that he is, effectively, killing the Lincoln reform on her primary day, and she goes and ends up underperforming expectations and getting dragged into a runoff. So now what?
Lincoln, almost surely, will try to use the whole thing to get to the left of her challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She’ll say that special interests are just waiting for her to be gone from the Senate so they can have the run of the place.
But it’s worth remembering that Lincoln’s hard left turn was awfully suspicious in the first place. When she announced her derivatives reform proposal, it was a testament to the power of a primary challenge: one of the Democrats’ most conservative senators was, all of a sudden, pushing an idea that might well be too progressive for her colleagues. So it’s not that hard to imagine that this maybe wasn’t her most sincere moment, and that she and Dodd had concocted a scheme to kill the thing literally on the day she won renomination.
Halter could make this case in the runoff. Or, if it’s a bit too conspiracist for the candidate to actually suggest, he can go with the watered-down version: what good is Lincoln anyway, if she can’t convince northern liberals like Dodd to go along with her reform? What kind of pull does she have?
Whatever Halter and Lincoln do try to argue going forward, things are looking grim for her. Getting from 45 percent in a first round to 50 percent in a runoff is a somewhat tall order for an incumbent. The general theory is that whoever was going to vote for her already has, and Halter will mop up the discontented anti-incumbent votes. That’s probably a little too simple, but it’s clear that Lincoln is in much more trouble than she expected.
Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale. More Gabriel Winant.
More Related Stories
- Is the Environmental Defense Fund ruining environmentalism?
- Top 5 investigative videos of the week: "Winning" Afghanistan
- Jester clowns Westboro Baptist Church
- GOP: Party of crybabies
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
p>Democratic incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who has angered much of the left with her willingness to vote with Republicans in the Senate, is facing a primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Halter, though he enjoys the support of many progressives, is studiously avoiding the liberal label. The primary will
be held on May 18th.
Latest Poll Numbers
Check out the most recent poll numbers on Real Clear Politics.
For the most recent funding numbers, check out OpenSecrets.org.