Upcoming Primaries Involve Tough Fights Over Health Votes
Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and some other lawmakers are facing stiff fights to retain their party's nomination for their own seats as they spend time defending their records and health care positions from the left.
Los Angeles Times: Lincoln is being tested, and challenged in a primary, by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who "rests on his brand of progressive populism, coupled with an appeal to voters' unhappiness with the status quo. ... Arkansas Democrats are also testing whether staking out a position left of center as Halter has done can be effective in a moderate-to-conservative state. Halter portrays Lincoln as a middle-of-the-road vacillator who stands only for compromise." And Halter, a former Clinton administration official, "jumped into the Senate race after Lincoln seemed to waffle on health care. Progressive groups such as MoveOn.org and organized labor quickly supported Halter. Lincoln ultimately voted for the health care bill but opposed both the 'public option' and later the 'fix' bill that passed through the reconciliation process, a dance that has sometimes been difficult to explain" (Oliphant, 5/13).
Roll Call: "Unlike the previous two election cycles, when Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill cleared the field for their incumbents and muscled preferred primary candidates to the nomination in targeted seats, 2010 has witnessed a dramatic slide in party influence beyond the Beltway. ... The inability of Washington Democrats to shape the political playing field has grown more acute with the onset of the primary campaign season. The first shot across the bow came Tuesday in West Virginia, where 14-term Rep. Alan Mollohan fell in the 1st district Democratic primary to state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who hit the incumbent for supporting health care reform on his way to a 12-point victory" (Drucker, 5/13).