It was always a question of when, not if. But Sen. Blanche Lincoln apparently chose today's appearance before the Political Animals Club to make the unequivocal statement that she would not support the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form. Her move in that direction, despite earlier support for the union-backed legislation, had been clear for weeks.
Her office is promising a formal statment. (UPDATE: On the jump.)
The question is whether she supports ANYTHING that would tilt the union organizing process a scintilla away from its current form of total favoritism toward management. Maybe not. Stephens Media's Doug Thompson quotes her as saying further debate would be "divisive" and "destructive." That sounds like a "go Cheney yourself" to working stiffs.
Republican Tim Griffin, a potential Lincoln opponent, was on hand for her speech. He was unimpressed, Twittering: "How is the "current form" different from the legislation she co-sponsored?"
Tipster says there are union protestors in front of Lincoln's office downtown. She probably asked them to demonstrate. Good visuals to underscore her betrayal of working people. (This is presumed smart politics in Arkansas, unbelievably.)
The National Federation of Independent Businesses has issued a release praising Lincoln. Mission accomplished.
"Most devastating blow yet" says Huffington Post of the impact of Lincoln's announcement on the legislation.
Brummett says Lincoln could have finessed this and her flat-out declaration indicates she's running scared. Yeah. And, yeah, too, when he is skeptical about a liberal voting for, say, Tim Griffin out of exasperation with Lincoln. Hold nose, maybe.
BUT JUST A MINUTE: That statement on the jump leaves a crack of daylight open to compromise, doesn't it? A spot of gruel for workers. But don't be deceived. The chamber is driving this train. No stops for workers to get on.
SEN. LINCOLN"S STATEMENT
“During my remarks today, I outlined the priorities that I’m focused on to get Arkansas and our nation back on track economically. They are job creation, health care reform, energy reform, investment in public education and tax cuts for middle class working families. Even though the Employee Free Choice Act is not on this priority list, it is receiving a lot of attention in the news and is the focus of many of my conversations with constituents on both sides of the issue. I consider both the labor and the business communities to be my friends. However, now that we need all hands on deck, including business and labor, to get our economy moving again, this issue is dividing us. While I may not have been clear about my position in the past, I am stating today that I cannot support Employee Free Choice Act in its current form and I can’t support efforts to bring it to Senate consideration in its current form. I will consider alternatives that have the support of both business and labor but my pledge today is to focus my full attention on the priorities I have mentioned that affect every working family in Arkansas.”