It's official. U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln has Republican opposition in 2010. It's state Sen. Kim Hendren, long ago a Democrat.
His announcement, in full:
FROM: Senator Kim Hendren, Minority Leader in the Arkansas Senate. Gravette, Benton County
“Today I am announcing my intent to be a Republican candidate for the United States Senate in the 2010 election.
I will be traveling throughout Arkansas meeting and listening to our people. Washington is out of touch on spending, bailouts, and is overpowering state and local governments. We, Arkansas state legislators, have maintained a balanced budget – and Arkansas’ United States Senator should firmly stand up for that in Washington, D.C.!
As an experienced businessman, educator, farmer, and Arkansas Legislator for more than 14 years - I understand how Arkansans feel.”
A formal announcement is planned for late summer or
Doug Thompson of Stephens Media predicted this yesterday and offers some comment here. He's energetic and can self-fund. He'll be popular in NW Ark., no doubt, though his appeal elsewhere remains to be seen. His past record isn't so hot on that.
He's, well, iconoclastic, to put it kindly. (What do I mean? Someone who has solid appeal with religious conservatives nonetheless broke on several red meat issues for angry white Southern men, the GOP base -- he's for mandatory motorcycle helmets; he resisted the bill to close the record of concealed weapon permit holders.)
His entry means the end of Sen. Gilbert Baker's contemplation of the race. A NWA candidate with strong name recognition is hard to beat in a Republican primary. Baker proved he could raise money nationally in his phenomenally expensive re-election to Senate last year and could have replicated that, in spades, in a U.S. Senate race.
I suspect this also ends contemplation of the race by a couple of Little Rock businessmen -- French Hill and Scott Ford -- because of the same political calculus.
I sent a note to the Lincoln staff seeking comment. She thanked me for the inquiry but said there'd be no comment.
My instant reaction: Good news for Lincoln. No lefties will abandon her for Hendren come the general election, no matter how grumpy they are about her rightward tilt. He'll be easy to pigeonhole as an extremist -- moreso than Baker or some others would have been. But there's a lot of time, more than 18 months, until the election. Lincoln also will bear the burden then of the national mood about the Democratic administration. For all our sakes, wholly apart from political considerations, I hope the mood is upbeat about the direction the country is heading.
Uh, no, Sen. Lincoln won't be compromising on card check legislation. And you can look to see her in camo with a shotgun and a brace of dead ducks just as soon as the season rolls around.
PS -- Tipster says Curtis Coleman, CEO of NLR-based Safe Foods, is still telling people that he hopes to make the race as a Republican. He was a major Huckabee backer. Lots on Hendren in this piece that noted Hendren didn't support Huckabee for president last year. Huckabee's pull in a Republican primary is a question mark, should he decide to work for his friend Coleman
ALSO: Hendren says he'll serve only one term if he wins. Baker and Tim Griffin still keeping their powder dry as to official pronouncements. But I still say you can book it. Baker won't run against Hendren.