The GOP establishment tries to nominate electable candidates, and gets sabotaged by the teabaggers. We’re trying to nominate electable candidates, and we get sabotaged by the Democratic Party establishment. We won in Pennsylvania, lost in Arkansas. You can’t win them all. But make no mistake — we made the politically smart move. [Emphasis added]
An advantage to primarying a sitting politician is that the primary can be an impetus for them to be a better Democratic elected official. In the case of Blanche Lincoln, this was undoubtedly true. She introduced tough derivatives reform language that goes farther than anything else in the Senate (or House) and unlike many times when progressive champions introduce great language that goes nowhere, Lincoln’s (for now) is actually likely going to be something the Senate votes on and passes (with the caveat that this was a cynical political ploy and it is unlikely to survive her nomination). Regardless, the strength of Halter’s campaign wasn’t merely a moral victory or a warning shot (though it was both those things). It actually forced Lincoln to stop sucking for a little while.
Markos is also right when he writes:
How much do you think the Chamber of Commerce and its corporatist allies will spend on behalf of Blanche Lincoln through the fall? Zero. Suddenly, you’re going to see Lincoln quite friendless.
Those evil “out of state” unions and progressive groups sure won’t lift a finger to help her. The only question is how much the DSCC wastes on the losing effort.
In a just world, Lincoln will be forced to continue her populist binge and will have to be good to have a shot at reelection. She would continue to be a better senator, even in the general election. I’m not optimistic that it happens, though. I think she will revert to being a conservative corporatist, whose vote is for sale to the highest corporate donor. Undoubtedly the DSCC will do exactly what the White House accused labor of doing and spend millions of dollars which could be better used to protect seats in more reliably blue states, or be redirected to holding the House.
I hope labor stays the hell away from Blanche Lincoln, after the shots she took at working Americans during the runoff. And yes, her new best friends at the Chamber of Commerce will be nowhere to be seen for the rest of the cycle. Actually, that’s not true. I’m sure they will dump hundreds of thousands of dollars into electing John Boozman to Senate in Arkansas.
Last thing: primaries matter. Elections matter. Voters should always have a choice and the act of saying, “We are unhappy with our current representation,” is always a fruitful one that should not be looked down upon. Money isn’t wasted when it’s made making a powerful statement. Belittling efforts to reflect popular dissatisfaction within the party is offensive and speaks to a pure lack of understanding of both today’s political and economic climate and the nature of progressive commitment to the Democratic Party. The continued failure of the White House to understand the how and the why of Bill Halter’s primary challenge to Blanche Lincoln will only result in lost seats in the House and Senate, alienated base activists, and even the loss of the White House in 2012. I’m obviously frustrated by the White House’s attacks on labor last night, but I’m even more concerned that the speak to an arrogance and disconnect from reality that will prove to be a fatal electoral combination.