Bill Halter to primary Blanche Lincoln: Blue America News

Good times, good times. Blue America PAC was out in front of the entire blogosphere when we targeted Blanche Lincoln as being a major obstructionist to health-care reform in America. We made our decision to raise and spend a ton of money to highlight how she was a typical ConservaDem who was more interested in keeping the health insurance industry rolling in cash than helping Americans in the struggle with health care. You can see all three ads that we ran with your help against her here: Campaign For Health Care Choice.

Howie Klein interviewed Lt. Governor Bill Halter before we started our ad campaign back in June of 2009 to see if he was interested in running against Blanche and he told Howie he wasn't at that time, but I think he sees his opening now.

Howie has much more:

Blue America has been busy all year letting Arkansas voters know that Blanche Lincoln may have a "D" next to her name but when it comes to the key issues that impact ordinary working families and pits their interests against Big Business and Wall Street, she was, in effect, a dependable Republican shill. Politics for her has become cultivating K Street and then fast-talking the Democratic base back home. We helped make that more and more difficult for her. And now, with her approval ratings the lowest of any member of the Senate and with a virtual certainty of defeat at the hands of any Republican, she has a real primary on her hands.

This morning Lt. Governor Bill Halter declared the would enter the May 18th primary against her. (Next week is the deadline for filing.) I spoke with Halter a few months ago and he said he had no intention of running. I feel certain he didn't. But as Lincoln's approval in the state collapsed, he has come to realize that he is the only chance the Democrats have to hold onto the seat.


Blue America just added Bill to our Send The Democrats A Message ActBlue page, in case you'd like to help him get his campaign message out. Blanche has raised over $7 million so far and has over $5 million on hand much of it from the sleaziest special interests in Washington (and Arkansas).

We've added him to our new: 'Send The Democrats A Message They Can Understand' and you can send him donations there.

Right now Blue America is working on interviewing him again so we can find out as much as we can for you on where he stands on the issues.

Kos writes:

Blanche Lincoln responds to Halter's candidacy:

“I’m excited about today and I’m excited to be an Arkansas Democrat. I’ll file for re-election and continue fighting for Arkansas every day here at home and in the United States Senate. I know that I am the target of both political extremes but that’s what makes this campaign so important to all of us. This Senate seat belongs to Arkansas, not to outside groups that are angry I don’t answer to them.”

Yup. Extremists like the League of Conservation Voters. Extremists like the Democratic Party (and the Obama Administration).

Live Chat: Blue America Welcomes Roxanne Conlin, IA-Senate

Wednesday the House voted overwhelmingly to abolish the exemption the health insurance monopolies have been enjoying from antitrust laws. I spoke to half a dozen candidates running for House seats from around the country, all of whom were very enthusiastic about the action (as you can see at the link above). Today an old Blue America friend, Rep. John Hall, sent us a statement reminding us that he's been talking about doing just this since last summer.

Finally, the House of Representatives has repealed the anti-trust exemption for the health insurance industry. I have been talking about this since last August, when it elicited applause from progressives and conservatives alike in my health care town hall meetings. I have spoken forcefully in our caucus about the insanity of allowing monopolistic practices, price-fixing, collusion and consolidation by corporations which are gouging the consumer with skyrocketing insurance premiums, shrinking coverage, underpaying of doctors, and refusing coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions.

Today, we finally got a debate and a vote on this first, clear issue pertaining to health care reform. Competition is key in driving down costs for families and small businesses. Monopolies kill competition. I have not heard a credible reason for health insurance companies to have such protection. It is especially obvious when Anthem Blue Cross just proposed a premium hike of 39% for one year, while simultaneously posting record profits and dropping millions more from coverage. I have heard from many of you who have experienced similar hikes from your insurance companies.

Enough is enough. I co-sponsored the legislation that passed by a bipartisan vote of 406-19. Republican Representatives argued strenuously against the bill, then flip-flopped and voted for it. I guess they didn't want to face the voters after casting a vote to protect an industry that clearly does not need protection.

By chance I also happened to be on the phone with Roxanne Conlin, a progressive Democrat running for the Iowa Senate seat currently occupied by anti-health-care fanatic Chuck Grassley. Roxanne is an attorney who "has devoted her law practice in Des Moines, Iowa to representing people who have been injured by others, whether by discrimination, products, doctors or vehicles and has gained national attention and the respect of her peers in the process." She knows quite a lot about why repealing the McCarran-Ferguson Act will be a tremendous boost for the whole cause of health care reform. John and I have invited her to C&L today (at noon, PT) to talk about this issue as the bill moves on to the Senate, the body she is aspiring to be part of. Meet us-- and Roxanne-- in the comments section.

Getting to Blanche. President Obama scolds Blanche Lincoln over her cowardly stance

There's a reason Blue America PAC targeted Blanche Lincoln over the summer: She's a ConservaDem who is up for reelection and was standing with the health-insurance industry over average working Americans. Our Campaign For Health Care Choice action raised enough money to blanket the state of Arkansas with ads that demanded she vote for change in our health care system. If you can, please continue to donate.

During Obama's conference with Senate Democrats yesterday, Lincoln whined to the president like a good little neo-Republican and asked him to moderate and bow down to Republicans. Have you ever heard of such a thing being said from a party member to its own president?

In one key exchange this morning, Obama rebuked pleas from Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) that he moderate his agenda and work with Republicans to ease the current state of economic uncertainty.

Lincoln described a constituent who she said was "extremely frustrated because there was a lack of certainty and predictability from his government for him to be able to run his businesses."

She asked: "Are we willing, as Democrats, not only to reach out to Republicans, but to push back in our own party for people who want extremes, and look for the common ground that's going to get us the success that we need not only for our constituents, but for our country, in this global community, in this global economy?"

Wow, I didn't know trying to fight for the public option and the best possible health care system is considered extreme in her mind. See, we're the bad guys and not the idiots who littered the town-hall meetings flinging racial insults and bizarre conspiracy theories around like they were candy. Rahm uttered his stupid remark behind closed doors, but conservatives are out front with their lunacy. President Obama then calls out Blanche.

From there, Obama turned to a more pointed critique of Lincoln's argument. "If the price of certainty is essentially for us to adopt the exact same proposals that were in place for eight years leading up to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression -- we don't tinker with health care, let the insurance companies do what they want, we don't put in place any insurance reforms, we don't mess with the banks, let them keep on doing what they're doing now because we don't want to stir up Wall Street -- the result is going to be the same," he said. "I don't know why we would expect a different outcome pursuing the exact same policy that got us into this fix in the first place."

Middle class Americans, Obama said, "are more and more vulnerable, and they have been for the last decade, treading water. And if our response ends up being, you know, because we don't want to -- we don't want to stir things up here, we're just going to do the same thing that was being done before, then I don't know what differentiates us from the other guys. And I don't know why people would say, boy, we really want to make sure that those Democrats are in Washington fighting for us."

It's doubtful that Obama has really learned his lesson about these Senate "moderates". But it's good to see him finally drawing a line.

This is the type of argument from Obama that a lot of Democrats, and not just progressives, have longed to hear. While a united Republican opposition has clearly slowed down his legislative agenda, it has been the conservative Democrats in the Senate who have punctured enormous holes in it.

The White House has largely coddled these four or five Senators, at least in public, in hopes of gradually winning over their support. The White House declined to criticize Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) for holding up health-care reform over a public option --- even while lashing out at former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean when he said the bill should be stopped because it lacked the public plan.

Blanche Lincoln seems confused, but Blue America's new ad is here to help her

Mike Stark catches up with Blanche Lincoln in Congress and asks her if she'll join the Republican filibuster. She has been virtually silent throughout the whole health care debate and Mike does a great job of getting her to say something on the record. What she said of course was nothing.

Stark: Can you see yourself filibustering or joining a filibuster?

Lincoln: I don't even know what the bill is going to be and I'm going to do what I think is most important for Arkansans and that is to look at the bill, to see if it's going to be helpful to Arkansans and the country in expanding health care...

She knows what's going on in this debate and gives a typical non-answer about supporting the public option like many have given up to this point. We at Blue America are running a brand new ad all over her state starting today so we can help her decide that filibustering health care is not in any one's best interests except the health insurance corporations that she's taken huge contributions from.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes:

The squeeze is on for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) on health care in the form of a new series of ads paid for by the liberal Blue America PAC that cast the Arkansas Democrat as bought and paid for by insurers. "Blanche Lincoln claims to fight for health care reform but whose interests does she really represent," asks the ad's narrator before noting that Lincoln has taken more than $2 million in campaign contributions from the health and insurance industries. The narrator concludes the ad by asking viewers to call Lincoln and "demand she allow an up or down vote on the public option." (This is the fourth ad paid for by Blue America targeting Lincoln this year.)

Polling shows Lincoln, who is up for re-election in 2010, holding relatively slim margins over a series of unknown Republican candidates. Lincoln's dilemma? How to walk the line between the conservative leanings of the Razorback State -- Obama took just 39 percent there in 2009 -- and the increasingly vocal and well-funded left within her own party who see the inclusion of a public option as a sine qua non for health care reform.

Her primary is the reason we targeted her originally and it's worked out very well so far.

Please help us continue running this ad and many more to come and join in on Blue America's Campaign for Health Care Choice. Donations are much appreciated.

And Digby writes:

Perhaps Lincoln should start worrying just a bit about what will happen if her Democratic base stays home. The numbers aren't looking all that good for her right now.

She's between little rock and a hard place but it seems to me that's easily solved at this point. She should vote for cloture, thus appeasing her base and then she can vote against the bill if she needs to appeal to neanderthals who want people to die quickly.

Believe me, none of her constituents will hold it against her. Most people think cloture is unpasteurized sour cream. And they like it.

Blue America's new Blanche Lincoln ad: Demand an Up or Down vote!

Media error

Blue America just produced a new ad that highlights the many payoffs she has received from the health Insurance industry and demands that she starts representing her constituents who unequivocally support the public option. I'm not much of a NASCAR fan, but you can see that the comparison we use in this ad matches her role well.

If you can, please help us to be able to blanket the entire state of Arkansas with this ad, because for a Democratic Senator to filibuster health-care reform is to become an active member of the teabagger/Republican party. She needs to vote for cloture and give Americans the right to an up-or-down vote and to be true to the will of the good people of Arkansas.

Howie Klein writes:

No, as we've been telling you all year, there's only one weak link worth trying to beat into submission: Arkansas' corrupt and reactionary-- don't those two terms always seem to find a way of cuddling up with each other?-- senior senator, Blanche Lincoln. Blue America has run TV spots against Lincoln all summer and fall and she's watched her re-elect numbers dwindle down to a place where if a serious opponent-- i.e., one with big bucks to buy advertising-- jumped into the race, she would lose. She may lose anyway, even though her current opponents would probably do better if they toured together as a carnival show. Yesterday the RNC started trying to push her to vote with Republicans-- as she so often does-- and against health care reform.

This week Blue America and our friends at Donkey on the Edge have a brand new ad for Arkansas voters to look at-- the fourth in our series-- and the message is very different from the Republicans'. By all means, be the first to view it-- and please consider making a contribution of our Campaign for Health Care Choice page so we can run it deep and wide.

If you live in Arkansas and contact Senator Lincoln, please let me know. Contact me at We need your help and so does America.

Buyer’s Remorse

Like a lot of people, I get a certain amount of ‘junk mail’ in my email inbox, some of it wanted, like the various eclectic, innocuous but interesting things such as A Word A Day and The New Zealand Week and my second favourite aviation newsletter, AVWeb. I even – god help me – knowingly subscribe to a few of the more rabid rightwing websites just to keep myself informed about whatever the other side is foaming at the mouth over today. (Think I’ll just mention them in passing without giving any the benefit of a link, however). Sometimes I sign an on-line petition or make a donation and inevitably end up with endless newsletters soliciting more money and more signatures from me, like from – which the other day sent me yet another plea, this time to help defeat Republican Olympia Snowe who opposes the public health insurance option.

So over my morning toast and coffee, I read BoldProgressives’ article on Nancy Randolph, who with her husband were a modestly well-off married couple from Maine, and had paid for what they had thought was excellent health insurance… until Mr. Randolph was diagnosed with cancer and the insurance company denied him coverage. He died, and the couple ended up in bankruptcy. Heartbreaking, gut-roiling stuff. And my heart truly does go out to Nancy Randolph, hers is a terrible tragedy made so much worse by knowing it was preventable. But there was one small point that bothered me...

Nancy Randolph voted for Republican Olympia Snowe.

In the clip, Nancy explains she voted for Snowe because she thought the senator would be ‘independent’. What, she didn’t notice the great big R beside the candidate’s name on the ballot? She didn’t notice how ‘independent’ a certain senator from a nearby New England state has been?

Far, far too many people in this country have either voted Republican, or worse, didn’t vote at all, because they didn’t think all those issues progressive have been so annoyingly vocal about for years would ever affect them. They’re hardworking middle class folks with decent jobs at good pay; why should they worry WalMart threatening their workers with violence if they dare to unionize? They’ve kept themselves in decent shape, watched their diet, exercised, stopped smoking, been responsible for their health and the worst medical problem they’ve had to deal with has been a bad cold or a sprained ankle, why should their hard-earned taxes go into paying for treating someone else’s kid with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria… whatever the hell that is? They’ve been upstanding citizens responsible and financially prudent, just as the conservatives have always claimed they should be, been loyal employees for stable companies and managed their pensions and modest investments carefully, saved up to put their kids through college. So why should they care about other people who weren’t as sensible, why should they care about tuitions skyrocketing and universities cutting back on such rubbish as the arts or adult education? Why should they worry about companies that go under from mismanagement, why should the government imposing regulations on the banks and investment firms that have done such a good job of safeguarding their retirement? They’ve been conscientious about donating to proper charities, like their church or Girl Scouts or those little brown kids in far away countries, but resent one penny of their tax money being used to help deadbeats or drug addicts or criminals in prison or single mothers or high school dropouts – those people get what they deserve… don’t they?

It’s not even like Olympia Snowe is on the same level of revulsion and incompetence as is Mean Jean Schmidt or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin, either. Snowe has earned her respected reputation, rarely missing a vote. She and fellow Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins went against her own party to vote to acquit Clinton, adamant his perjury didn’t warrant his being hounded from office. She’s angered the GOP enough times for them to have accused her of being a RINO, and she has shown genuine bi-partisanship in the past. Her reluctant opposition to the current attempts at health care reform has not been as dogmatic and irresponsible as all too many of her colleagues’, either. As Republicans go, this country can and has done a hell of a lot worse than Olympia Snowe, some of them even being our own Blue Dogs… haven’t we? We can live with a compromise, better we get a little something rather than nothing at all… right? Right?

Continue reading »


As you know, Blue America is targeting Blanche Lincoln because she has said she will not support a public option when it comes to the health-care debate. As Jane Hamsher says:

But in the fourth year of their terms, every Senator becomes a Representative for two years. Blanche Lincoln is running for re-election in 2010. If she's ever going to be persuadable, now is the time.

I agree with Jane completely. All Democratic politicians should be backing the public option if they want to see any kind of reform in the health-care industry.

We have a way we think can persuade Lincoln:

You can donate to Blue America's Campaign For Health Care Choice, here. It's getting harder every day, but it's not over. Blanche Lincoln is on the health sub-committee of the Senate Finance Committee and she's running for re-election in 2010. Let's see if her constituents think she should be handing out government goodies to these health industry fat cats and getting nothing in return while they struggle with health care premiums and growing unemployment.

We aren't standing still while the fat cats get fatter. So here's the thing. We've produced three different commercials with the help of BNF's to run in Lincoln's state of Arkansas and we need your help.

We've already raised over $18,000 so far and that's awesome, but what we want you to do next is it to vote for the ad that you think we should run first and you'll be letting us know by adding one, two, or three cents at the end of your donation on our Blue America's Campaign For Health Care page. Here's how it will go.

#1 Blue America Health Care Campaign - Blanche Lincoln: "I Thought We Had Insurance" Add one cent to your contribution if you want to vote for this spot.

#2 Blue America Health Care Campaign - Blanche Lincoln: "Bonuses" Add two cents to your contribution if you want to vote for this spot.
#3 Blue America Health Care Campaign - Blanche Lincoln: "Bailout" Add three cents to your contribution if you want to vote for this spot.

That's it, so a donation for #1 would look something like $20.01

Howie Klein explains:

Help us get the word out about Senator Lincoln by donating whatever you can afford to the spot (or spots) you think will persuade her voters to give her a call. The spot that collects the most money by Friday at noon will win. And if we persuade her to commit to the quality public plan, so will all Americans.

Everyone knows that if we don't have at least a vibrant public option, then health-care reform will be nothing more than health insurance companies giving us empty talking points about cutting costs and they will ultimately bamboozle their way into making just as much money by gaming the legislation and finding as many loopholes as they can. With a public option, we'll at least have a choice about the direction we want our health care system to go and remember, it's a huge start. America has been trying to reform health care since Harry Truman.

Digby has an incredible post up that chronicles the history of this debate. As you can see, it's been an almost impossible task.

But right now there is a real chance for the first time in 65 years to enact universal health care, however imperfect the specifics of it may be. I'm sure whatever they pass will be inadequate, just as medicare and Social Security were inadequate when they were originally passed. It seems to be the American way. But if our political and business elites have finally come to the consensus that America should join the first world and create a system that guarantees coverage to everyone, then I think we have to take the leap while we can. History shows that these chances don't come along every day. In fact, they come along about every couple of decades and we very rarely can even take an incremental step. We need to get universal health care on the books.

Quinnipiac just did another poll which said that almost 70% of Americans want the government to create a health care alternative: Most Americans Support Public Health Care Option, Poll Finds

Sixty-nine percent of Americans support creation of a government-run health plan to compete with private insurance companies, a new poll found. In addition, 52 percent of those surveyed by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University said such a plan would keep the private insurance companies on

"If we build it, they will come." So, let us know which ad you want us to run and keep the money flowing.

Paid for by Blue America PAC,, not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.