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).



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 crooksandliars-AT-gmail.com. We need your help and so does America.



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 »



Blue America Alert: Blanche Lincoln now supports a quality, affordable public plan!

CFHC-23K_cd831.jpg

For the first time since the health care debate started, Blanche Lincoln has made a positive statement about the public option. Blue America is scheduled to run ads today against her previous position that said she was worried a public plan would hurt the insurance companies.

“We want to keep what works in the private industry and make it better,” Lincoln told Arkansas reporters in a conference call today. “There’s a lot of discussion about what else we might need that we can’t get from the private sector.”

---

One of our biggest concerns is that it doesn’t need to be a government plan that usurps that ability to compete in the marketplace, which I’m concerned that a totally government-run option would do,” she said.

She was afraid the poor, poor health insurers would be a cryin'. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post's Plum Line called her office and asked Blanche for comment on Monday about the ads that Blue America is running. Here's her response.

It came in the form of an op-ed today. What timing, right?

Looks like pressure from the left might be getting results, albeit limited ones, in the case of “centrist” Dem Senator Blanche Lincoln, who has been resisting any commitment to backing a public health care option.

Lincoln, who’s getting hammered by ads demanding she commit to the public option, has now shifted towards supporting one, at least in rhetorical terms. In a piece for today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, she says the final health care reform should include a public plan or a non-profit substitute.

Here’s the key graf from Lincoln (the piece is subscription only):

Health care reform must build upon what works and improve inefficiencies. Individuals should be able to choose from a range of quality health insurance plans. Options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan.

The assertion that reform “should” have a public plan or non-profit substitute is a shift from her previous position, which was only that she was “evaluating” a public plan or a substitute.

Lincoln’s position had made her a top target of the left. The Blue America PAC, which is headed by liberal bloggers Howie Klein, Jane Hamsher, John Amato and Digby, raised money for ads targeting Lincoln in her home state of Arkansas, pushing her to commit to a public option...read on

Yes, she left herself a little wiggle room, but that's what the pols have all been doing so far in the health-care debate. She's now much closer to Chuck Schumer's position than that of Max Baucus. Lincoln actually used Blue America's framing in her op-ed. We're not done yet, but all I can say is that this was made possible by your contributions and a lot of hard work by the brilliant Digby and the rest of the Blue America PAC.

d-day writes this:

In this op-ed, Lincoln makes absolutely no mention of an employer mandate to provide coverage to their workers, which Wal-Mart, America's largest employer and a virtual kingmaker in Arkansas, signed onto this week. Instead, Lincoln goes out of her way to support a public insurance option in competition with private insurance. There are weasel words there, of course - note the "non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals." But in the final analysis, two events happened to Blanche Lincoln in health care recently - Wal-Mart's sign-on to the employer mandate and the prospect of Blue America running ads in her state ($25,000 can go a fairly long way on cable in Arkansas, by the way). She chose to specifically align herself with the element of health care policy that Blue America endorses.

But she's not all the way there, so we plan to keep pushing. But this should be a valuable lesson - every small thing you do to advance solutions to the health care crisis can make a difference. The political animals in the Senate know that on this high-profile vote, defying the public on a popular plank will cause them some difficulty. It's up to us to make sure of that.

Please support the Campaign for Health Care Choice so we can continue to raise the pressure on the ConservaDems who want to hijack this crucial policy goal

By the way, Greg Sargent's blog is a must-read every day.



CFHC-18K_aba59.jpg

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 honest...read on

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



The DCCC sent out an exceptionally well-done clip today pointing to the difference between Obama's vision of Hope and the Republican vision of failure. Please take a look at it. There's no doubt that the Republicans are on a mission to not just obstruct, but to undermine-- everything, from health care reform to the economic recovery and even to the safety of the nation itself. The clip puts forth a strong message, a compelling message. But it just isn't bipartisan enough. After all, it isn't only Republicans who want the single most important piece of Obama's change agenda-- substantive health care reform-- to fail. Plenty of Democrats get the exact same huge handouts from the exact same Medical-Industrial Complex and Big Insurance lobbyists and CEOs. And they will do anything to prevent single payer health care from passing-- or even being brought into the discussion!

I've got the full story up at DownWithTyranny, but John called from the airport and asked me to remind everyone to please consider helping out with the Blue America initiative to save the public option. As John keeps pointing out, health care reform isn't really a Republican vs Democratic issue; it's an issue for the welfare of all American families-- which is why a staggering 83% of Americans want the public option.

Blue America has launched this new campaign to persuade senators who routinely take a great deal of money from Big Insurance to work for their constituents, not for their campaign contributors. We are working with Brave New Films to put together a series of TV commercials that we will start running next month in Arkansas, home of two anti-reform Democrats, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. Please read more about the plan-- and consider helping us put it into effect-- here at our Blue America page.




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