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).

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 can't hide under a "Little Rock"

Our new Blue America ad is running all over Arkansas and people are into it.

Roll Call featured it, so you know Blanche is not a happy camper -- and that's a good thing. She was elected as a Democratic Senator and hasn't said if she'll give the health care bill an up-or-down vote. Simply amazing.

Please join in Blue America's Campaign For Health Care Choice

Roll Call writes:

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), facing the prospect of a tough re-election bid next year, is under pressure from a liberal activist group to support a motion to proceed on health care reform legislation that is poised to hit the Senate floor next week. Lincoln has been on the fence on whether she would support a bill with a government-funded public insurance option. The Blue America political action committee is hitting statewide Arkansas cable television with a 30-second spot demanding that Lincoln “allow an up-or-down vote on the public option.” “Blanche Lincoln claims to fight for health care reform. But whose interest does she really represent?” the ad’s voiceover says as the spot opens. “Lincoln has taken thousands from PACs from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Aetna and United Health Group — over $2 million from the health and insurance industries combined. That’s why 56 percent of voters think these contributions hurt her judgment on health care,” the ad continues. “With one in four Arkansans uninsured, let’s save sponsorships for the race cars. Help Sen. Lincoln get back on track.”

And Digby finds this very good article about the new ad that you helped pay for.

Democratic Strategist:

BlueAmerica's latest Lincoln ad is very tough, and graphically amusing, depicting Senator Lincoln all gussied up like a NASCAR driver, only the ads pasted all over her jumpsuit are for her many health care contributors. Slide the right-side bar at the link down and view three more 'Harry and Louise' style ads depicting a couple at the kitchen table wondering why Sen. Lincoln is so concerned about health insurers, when they can hardly pay their bills. The idea here is to build constituent awareness about her foot-dragging and get them to call her and urge her to get on the side of consumers, who need a public option to have any leverage with private insurers.

Some I guess would argue that these ads may do more harm than good if they alienate Lincoln from her progressive supporters. If she is that petty, however, she would probably vote wrong anyway. So I say it's time for the full-court press. The ads are honest, both in the facts presented and in depicting the utter bewilderment many of her constituents -- especially those Democrats who voted for her -- are feeling at her reluctance to even allow a vote on a measure that would let maybe 10 percent of Americans chose government health insurance over private insurance. Will Lincoln be a corporate lackey or champion of the people? Maddow puts the campaign to win Lincoln's support in perspective right here.

Howie Klein has a great post up detailing exactly where the ads are playing and in what cities.

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.

Email of the Day: 'Blanche Lincoln is losing her base'

C&Ler Ross from Arkansas writes in about our new Blue America ad directed at Sen. Blanche Lincoln:

I am a resident of Little Rock, AR, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln never, ever responds to my emails. Sen. Pryor (who’s actually more conservative than Ms. Blank) and Rep. Snyder always reply, whether they agree with me or not. Hell, I’m even married to a gal from Lincoln’s home town and my in-laws are still friends with her family. She is in her own bubble and getting, what I believe, to be bad campaign advice. For some reason, she thinks she can garner some Republican votes (no way) by opposing any kind of public option but all she is doing is completely losing her base of liberals and moderates.

Arkansas politics is a funny monster. The voters here respond to leadership. Period. I’m afraid Ms. Blank ain’t up to it.

Keep them coming Arkansas.

Blue America vs The Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas

Adam Green finds this gem.

Does this ad from the Chamber of Commerce make you furious?

There are like only 200 views of this hideous ad. I hate to post it, but I think some of you who have donated to our Blanche Lincoln action need to be aware of what you have supported and the conservative forces that stand against us. The Chamber of Commerce supports the squishy Conservadem Blanche Lincoln (who is squatting the with Backus Dogs) with a new ad that actually has the audacity to say she's standing up for working families. If she were, then she'd be on board with the public option.

This is our ad running against it right now in heavy rotation in Lincoln's back yard.

As Howie Klein says: The ads run for another 8 days and they are running on CNN, Fox (minus Glenn Beck) and MSNBC in every part of the state.

This ad is part of our Blue America's Campaign for Health Care Choice.

We need your support and have several more actions on the way.

Blanche Lincoln, here we come! Part III

Media error

(h/t Heather)

Keith Olbermann discussed how destructive Blanche Lincoln has been over her non-support of the public option as she sits on the Senate Finance Committee even though Arkansas residents favor the public option by a wide margin.

Olbermann: ...others who act like Republicans who still call themselves Democrats -- Senator Blanche Lincoln for instance telling Roll Call that she's all for the public option so long as it is not a pubic option, ostensibly so she can sell it back home in Arkansas. Her quotes: I'm not supportive of a government run and government supported public option. That would be the definition of a public option. She adds,

It's got to be competitive. It's got to create choice for people.

Last month 55% of those people in her state surveyed by Research 2000 were in favor of a public option. The public option is there to create choice and bring down the price of health care for Americans. What is she talking about?

Blue America was the first group to target Lincoln back in June with an ad campaign, and now, as the health-care reform debate winds down, we're buying another round of ads to run in her state for the next two weeks that will inform her constituents once again that she is not working for the people who elected her, but for the health industrial complex that sends funds to her campaign. It's not a coincidence that her poll numbers have dropped big time since we started our ad campaign -- and as time has gone by, she finally became more outspoken about her non-support for the public option. It wasn't a surprise that she tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible so that she could remain invisible until she cast her vote, but that was never going to happen.

Arkansas public option poll_b444b.jpg

Please donate to Blue America's public option Lincoln ads if you can so we can keep the pressure on Blanche and make her realize that it's the voters who she's supposed to be working for...

Will Arkansas Voters Decide They've Had Enough Of Blanche Lincoln? Please donate!

Yesterday, as expected, Lincoln voted against the public option in the Senate Finance Committee -- twice. She has a history of always sticking with her campaign donors when what they want conflicts with what Arkansas voters want. In this case only 38% of Arkansas voters -- almost all of them Republicans -- oppose the public option. 81% of Arkansas Democrats support the public option -- as do Arkansas voters. During the committee markup process yesterday, John Ensign taunted the Democrats on the committee by asking them why they couldn't pass a public option in the Senate with such large majorities in the country wanting it. Unlike almost everything Ensign said yesterday, this is a worthwhile question to ponder.

In fact, when polling companies have asked voters in conservative-leaning states and districts if they will be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who votes to kill the public option, the answer is consistently coming back that it would make them less likely to vote for that candidate. Lincoln can hardly afford to lose any of her base. Her unfavorability rating is 49% (favorables are down to 43%) and so far the only thing keeping her from joining the ranks of the political walking dead is the fact that the Republicans can't come up with a credible opponent. No one is polling the impact of the two independents in the race, Trevor Drown and Green Party nominee John Gray. Gray, a single payer advocate didn't mince words in his analysis of what happened yesterday in the Senate:

I’m not at all surprised. She has a rather large campaign chest, almost half of which is from the medical industries. The fact that she is loyal to her sponsors is not at all surprising... Eliminate the health care insurance industry ... and you would save enough money to cover every man woman and child in the United States. Nobody blinks an eyelash if we lay off 40,000 autoworkers, who actually produce something. These health insurance brokers, it’s hard to say what they produce.

This afternoon while Grassley was babbling on incoherently, I took a short break and ran down to the Blue America P.O. Box, where I found the latest report of our cable TV ads running, this time in Benton and Washington counties. The ads ran on a Thursday and Friday night when she was speaking in the area. They ran on Larry King Live, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Colbert Report, The O'Reilly Factor, Headline News Countdown With Keith Olberman, Hardball, The Chainsaw Massacre, Anderson Cooper 360, Showbiz Tonight, The Ed Show, Fast Money, CNN Newsroom and lots of other similar programs-- Nancy Grace and Shepard Smith but no Glenn Beck.

Keep in mind that Tom Harkin told The Hill yesterday that he feels he has enough Democrats now that Massachusetts has their second seat covered, to break the Republican filibuster, get a bill with a public option onto the floor and pass it with 51 votes. That isn't reconciliation; that's simple cloture and majority rule. Would anyone break from the party and vote with the Republicans to filibuster the bill? ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln are the only two who could conceivably keep the public option from even reaching the floor. Lincoln, who also opposes climate and energy legislation and has already declared that she will join the Republicans in filibustering Employee Free Choice, is not a good player. She doesn't deserve another term. You say, "neither do Nelson, Baucus or Conrad?" I agree. But they're not up for election in 2010. Lincoln is.

We'd like to run some more ads. In fact, we're going to. If we raise enough money we'll put them on network TV. If not, we'll keep running them on cable. The 3 ads are on the Blue America Campaign For Health Care Choice page, which is also where you can donate to the cost of running more spots if you're so inclined.

John Amato:

Blue America helped bring Blanche's approval ratings down with our initial ad campaign against her months ago when nobody was talking about her and we want to keep her accountable. Campaign For Health Care Choice has rocked and I want to thank you. Keep helping if you can.

Blue America's ad campaign in July weakens Blanche Lincoln in AR: DKos Research Poll: She's under 50%

Daily Kos Research has a new poll out on Arkansas, and Blanche Lincoln has taken a big hit ever since Blue America came after her.

Daily Kos/Research 2000 Arkansas Poll

2010 Senate race

Blanche Lincoln (D) 44

Gilbert Baker (R) 37

Blanche Lincoln (D) 45

Curtis Coleman (R) 37

Blanche Lincoln (D) 46

Tom Cox (R) 29

Blanche Lincoln (D) 47

Kim Hendren (R) 28

Lincoln is under the 50 percent "safe" mark for incumbents, despite facing a lineup of potential foes unknown by 75-85 percent of poll respondents. There is certainly room for those Republicans to make gains -- or lose support -- as they become better known. Still, Lincoln's electoral prospects won't be harmed by the health care debate, as the public option polls extremely well in Arkansas.

Do you favor or oppose creating a government-administered health insurance option that anyone can purchase to compete with private insurance plans?

Favor Oppose Not Sure

All 55 38 7

Dem 81 14 5

Rep 22 71 7

Ind 56 34 10

The major reason we first targeted Lincoln back in July was that she's running for reelection in 2010, while many of the ConservaDems on the Senate Finance Committee did not have to face their voters.

It's amazing that she's under the 50% threshold now. We'll be running another wave of TV ads coming up, and I wanted to thank all our readers for making this possible. You can still donate to Blue America's Health Care for Choice Act Blue page so we can keep fighting for the public option

UPDATE: Change Congress has an action against AR's Blue Dog Mike Ross.

Today, we are announcing our latest TV ad -- calling out the "Blue Dog Democrat" leader, Rep. Mike Ross (Arkansas), for his special-interest contributions from the health industry.

Click here to see the ad and help us air it in Arkansas.

This ad includes a substantial cameo by Keith Olbermann, and for those of you who know my voice, you'll recognize a certain narrator.

We're all keeping the heat on.

I think Blanche Lincoln needs another round of ads, don't you? Please help

Blue America's first push at Blanche Lincoln proved very worth while. As Greg Sargent reported, we forced her to write an op-ed in which she shifted positions on the public option. We raised almost 28K and ran our first ad for two weeks in heavy rotation on CNN, MSNBC and all the major cable networks in Arkansas. With Max Baucus delaying the Senate Finance Committee bill for as long as he has, Blanche is now shifting back to her old position. Haven't you noticed that you never see Lincoln appear on television to express her POV? She's up for re-election, hence with her keeping a low profile.

Howie Klein explains:

Lincoln reacted quickly, making noises that sounded like she might take the side of her state's working families for a change, instead of the big Insurance companies that buy her fealty. But, alas, they were only noises. Yesterday one of our friends in Hot Springs forwarded us a form letter she got from Lincoln's office. As though it were written by a real Democrat, it acknowledges that there's a problem. But the conclusion is very disappointing, some of it coming straight from Insurance Industry Talking Points that are routinely parroted by anti-health care fanatics like Mike Pence (R-IN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI):

While I support government programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, or ARKids First,” as it is known in Arkansas) that provide coverage for specific vulnerable and hard-to-insure populations, I do not support moving America to a nationalized single-payer or “government-run” health care system. Instead, in health care reform I will ensure Arkansans and Americans will have the freedom of choice to keep their current insurance plans and current doctors or choose another plan that better meets their needs.

Well, it's time to see if we can raise enough money to run a second wave of our ad. The next one will be the ad I have embedded in this post. It was #3 called "Bailout" Please donate here if you can.

She's also doing some town halls and we can use the good people of Arkansas to go there and represent Blue America and C&L.

Here's her schedule.

Lincoln will travel the state throughout the annual congressional work period. The following is Lincoln’s schedule of events around the state for August 11-15:

Tuesday, August 11—Little Rock, Malvern

9:10 a.m., Keynote address, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas Seminar, “Connecting Your Business with China.” Lincoln will join the State Chamber/AIA, Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas World Trade Center, and business and community leaders to welcome the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham Street, Little Rock.

12:00 p.m., Speak, Lions Club of Malvern. Western Sizzlin Steak House, 621 Martin Luther King Boulevard, Malvern.

Wednesday, August 12—Little Rock

9:00 a.m., Speak, “Jobs for Arkansas” Business Aviation Forum at Dassault Falcon Jet. Lincoln will join Governor Beebe, Senator Pryor, Dassault Falcon employees, and other community and business leaders to discuss the importance of Arkansas’s aviation industry. Dassault Falcon Jet Company, 3801 East 10th Street, Little Rock.

Continue reading »

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