by Max Brantley
Report confirms that Lt. Gov. Bill Halter met recently with liberal bloggers and political activists about a primary challenge to U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
The gathering was held at the D.C. home of blogger Jane Hamsher, whose group Accountability Now encourages primary challenges. Reached by phone, Hamsher confirmed the gathering, but declined further comment.
It’s unclear how serious Halter is about the challenge, but the fact that he’s meeting with labor officials and bloggers to discuss the possibility is significant. Halter didn’t tell the assembled that he would make the race, but he made it clear he was seriously considering it, the sources said.
“He was discussing it,” one of the people present said. “He gave a lot of reasons why he thought Blanche didn’t stand a chance in the general. He sounded like a candidate. He’s definitely exploring it.”
“The discussion was about the feasiblity and how much support there would be for him,” the second person present said. “He obviously had thought it through seriously. It was a hard core campaign discussion.”
Hamsher's blog has helped promote the recent series of free clinics, including one in Little Rock that Halter worked to arrange. Though non-partisan, their aim has been obvious -- to illustrate the need for universal health care, preferably by public option.
My own understanding of outreach to Halter is that he's interested in what kind of money could be raised for his candidacy. That would depend, partly, on his willingness to support a public option health plan. Recent developments conceivably could make that concern largely moot, if Congress has no public option to consider.
My guess? I don't know. I still think Halter really wants to be governor.
Labor might also support Halter, though it has been friendly with Lincoln. The thinking there, though, is that labor has agreed to delay card check legislation until after the election, to avoid putting friends and endangered Democrats on the spot.
Bud Jackson, campaign spokesman for Halter in his first run for public office, emerges again with a statement regarding the report:. Halter is "focused" on raising money for his re-election. But he does NOT say he won't run for Senate.
Lieutenant Governor Halter traveled to Washington, DC to fulfill his responsibilities as Chairman of the Democratic Lieutenant Governor's Association and to attend a bipartisan meeting of lieutenant governors at the Chinese Embassy where he continued to advocate for increased Arkansas rice and poultry exports into China.
Whether home in Arkansas or on a routine trip to Washington, DC Lieutenant Governor Halter has been encouraged to run for the United States Senate. He appreciates the hopes that others have for him and he continues to listen and respond respectfully but he is focused on raising money for his re-election.