by Max Brantley
UPDATE: Statement from U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln reiterates her talking point about her centrism (not much help so far, given polls):
“I’m excited about today and I’m excited to be an Arkansas Democrat. I’ll file for re-election and continue fighting for Arkansas every day here at home and in the United States Senate. I know that I am the target of both political extremes but that’s what makes this campaign so important to all of us. This Senate seat belongs to Arkansas, not to outside groups that are angry I don’t answer to them.”
As expected, the Halter announcement is making some national waves.
Here, the liberal Daily Kos has begun fund-raising support for Halter.
Kos readers seem happy at the news. Many of them are not Ark. Dems, however.
Politico says the announcement "complicates" matters for Lincoln. Yup.
Talking Points Memo thinks progressive and "netroots" support could be an advantage for Halter in the fall, something Lincoln couldn't expect. The counter to that is that Republicans, particularly in Arkansas, love to characterize a candidate as an East Coast liberal symp. This could work a little better against Halter than against, say, a Dale Bumpers, given the number of years Halter was away from the state (including working in the belly of the Washington beast, if at the generally popular Social Security Administration.)
Surprisingly, no Republican snark yet. It ought to arrive any minute. UPDATE: here it is:
“With Bill Halter’s entrance in this race, Arkansas has joined several states where the Democrats face divisive Senate primaries. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Lincoln and Halter are both completely out of step with Arkansas’ mainstream values, and voters in this state have overwhelmingly rejected President Obama’s out-of-control spending agenda in Washington. Arkansans are tired of the status quo under the Obama Administration and they are looking to elect a Senator who will fight for much-needed checks and balances in Washington this November.” – Amber Marchand, National Republican Senatorial Committee Press Secretary
The liberal Progressive Change Committee predicts a massive corporate attack on Halter (because he might be pro-health care, pro-clean air and friendly to unions) and promises to mobilize a "grassroots army." Its video below.