by Max Brantley
Firedoglake blogger Jane Hamsher last night on MSNBC dared U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln to join a filibuster against Democratic health legislation. (It was reported during the show that such a step would be historic, a filibuster by a sitting senator against his/her own party.) Hamsher thinks a filibuster vote would draw a Democratic primary challenge.
. . but it’s not because I have any special ability to draw a primary challenger out of thin air.
It’s because there are credible challengers sitting on the sidelines, waiting to jump in if Lincoln does filibuster health care. And if I know it, she knows it.
Blanche’s numbers in Arkansas are weak. She’s vulnerable in the general, running behind all four of her Republican opponents. But before she can get to the general, she’s got to get through a primary, and 80% of Arkansas Democrats favor a public option.
Well. I believe a solid majority of Arkansas Democrats support a public health insurance option (70 percent of them in the 4th District, home to another insurance company defender, U.S. Rep. Mike Ross). But not so sure I believe there are credible Democrats poised to leap into the race if Lincoln caucuses with Republicans on health care. Unless she means Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
PS -- U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor continues to indicate he won't join a filibuster, though he isn't committed to vote for the legislation.
I do support the process. I think we need to keep this thing moving through the process and see how it develops over time. I haven’t committed. I wouldn’t really do that until I have had a chance to actually see the bill. But my inclination is to support the process and let it get to the floor.
The response that I have had in Arkansas on the public option is mixed. I have had some that are adamantly opposed to any sort of public option. I have had some that are completely for any kind of public option. The truth is, I think, for folks who really know what the public option is, they get more comfortable with it. I think originally some folks branded it as just a government takeover of health care and that’s not what it is.
PPS -- On this topic, David Sanders writes that Gov. Mike Beebe could help Lincoln by saying Arkansas would participate enthusiastically and not opt out of the latest Senate public option proposal. The popular governor's endorsement would presumably give her some cover. Good idea.