by Max Brantley
I wouldn't hazard more than a dollar on the outcome of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. But the punditry seems to be detecting an upset.
1) Blanche Lincoln's campaign was one of the worst of the year.
Lincoln has seemed to suffer from a split personality in trying to defeat Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. At the outset, she was an apologetic DLC moderate -- happy to defy her liberal national party on behalf of Arkansans. Then, after barely edging Halter in the primary, she veered hard to the left and aired ads touting her support for healthcare reform and featuring noted Razorback favorite Rachel Maddow. Now, seemingly frustrated with labor's continued air assault against her, she's returning to Southern Dem of yore mode, warning outsiders to stop meddling in her state and boasting of her time spent in her caucus's "time-out chair."
If she wins, it will be because this Blanche relied on the kindness of strangers -- namely tradition-minded Democratic regulars who may show up for a run-off -- and not because she did herself any favors.
2) And then there's the prediction of how Bill Halter could change the face of progressive Democratic politics NATIONWIDE?
Adam Green of the liberal group, Bold Progressives, said a Halter victory would have the impact of Ned Lamont's upset victory over Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) in the 2006 Democratic primary.
“Just as the Lieberman primary victory shocked Democrats into talking about Iraq, this will shock Democrats into being more populist and anti-corporate,” said Green. “If Halter wins, it will prove to thousands of activists, donors and voters that defeating corporate Democrats is possible — and likely lead to a huge infusion of energy into other progressive campaigns across the country."
Ummm, maybe, maybe not. Is the Tea Party ascendant in Masschusetts and the U.S.? Or did Martha Coakley just run a terrible race?