Early Handicapping

I’d say, “and so it begins,” but it really began weeks ago in Massachusetts. But it continues in Arkansas:

Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) now has far more to worry about than just Republican challengers in November. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter announced this morning in a video on his campaign Web site that he is taking on the second-term senator in the Democratic primary.

“Right now, Washington is not working for Arkansas families. But it ought to,” Halter says in the video as he steps out of his pickup truck. “If you want your government dedicated to helping middle class families rather than protecting special interests, then join my campaign.”

In his announcement, Halter describes his work in Bill Clinton’s presidential administration helping balance the federal budget, and helping establish the “scholarship lottery program” as second in command in Arkansas. He says “it’s past time to put more Arkansas values in Washington.”

When it comes to actual legislation, you can’t count on the Blue Dogs to break ranks — they’re all bark and no bite. Sometimes (I’m looking at you, Ben Nelson) they can get into spending fixes that’d make a liberal Democrat blush. Lincoln is certainly cast in the same mold as Nelson.

So — you’ve got Halter running to her left in the primary. Lincoln polls no better than mid-30s against any one of five Republican challengers. And Halter might conceivably perform worse than Lincoln in the general, if he really does run to her left.

If you haven’t already, mark Arkansas a Republican pickup.

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