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Senate 2010: Blanche Lincoln Vs. ??????????

Updated: Apr 15

From left: Bill Halter, Tim Griffin, Kim Hendren, Blanche Lincoln, French Hill, Gilbert Baker and Kurtis Blow, because I don't have a photo of Curtis Coleman.


With all the recent developments in the 2010 Senate race, here’s a handy chart for you to use to keep track of who’s who.

U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a two-term Democratic incumbent, announced in March that she would run for a third term, and oh, by the way, she just happened to have $2.3 million sitting around that would be just perfect for the purpose.

(If you’re reading this outside Arkansas, that may not sound like a lot of dough, but it is, because the state has relatively few media markets. In the last big statewide race in 2006, Mike Beebe raised $6.5 million total in a race that cost a total $10 million—the most expensive in state history at the time. Lincoln has a third of Beebe’s total on hand with a year and a half to go.)

Still, there’s a perception that Lincoln is “vulnerable” or “in trouble,” a meme that we’ve chronicled here in recent weeks. Last month, a telephone survey from Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling in North Carolina reported back some soft numbers for Lincoln, feeding in to the perception of vulnerability.

At this early point, several Republicans have indicated that they’re considering getting into the race:

Kim Hendren, state senator from Bella Vista

Hendren announced his intention to challenge Lincoln on April 18. Hendren is a businessman and longtime state legislator with deep pockets. He also has family ties to the Hutchinson clan (brother-in-law to Tim and Asa). Sources close to Hendren say he’ll run a “populist campaign” with a strong focus on federal fiscal responsibility. He pledges to serve only one term if elected.

Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times has more here, noting Hendren’s conservative but sometimes unorthodox stances on issues.

Reporter Doug Thompson declines to predict Hendren’s chances, but he thinks Hendren’s addition to the mix will make for some dandy fireworks.

Blake Rutherford of Blake’s Think Tank, who chest-thumpingly declared Lincoln “unbeatable” last month, is unimpressed: “Bleh.”

Gilbert Baker, state senator from Conway and former chair of the Arkansas GOP

Baker, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, is a solid conservative who is the subject of a “Draft Gilbert” campaign spearheaded by blogger Rett Hatcher.

Brantley and a Twittering David Sanders both forecast that with Hendren in, Baker will announce soon that he’s out, but Baker tells blogger Jason Tolbert, “Don’t rush me!”

Tim Griffin, attorney, political consultant and former U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of Arkansas

After announcing he was thinking about running on Twitter, Griffin’s been making the rounds the last several months, energetically hitting every room in the state where more than five Republicans may happen to be gathered at any time.

Arkansas Project commenter Hunter and a Twittering Elizabeth Aymond of the Arkansas Young Republicans suggest that, if Griffin’s activity and demeanor at this weekend’s College Republicans conference was any indication, he’s likely to be jumping in soon. Griffin has said he’ll announce his intent by June 1.

Three others:

French Hill, CEO of Delta Bank and former Treasury official in the first Bush administration

Hill’s name has been floated for some time and he’s said to have visited Washington D.C. to talk to party honchos about a potential run, but if he’s making any preparations to run, it’s all behind the scenes.

Scott Ford, former Alltel CEO

This is another name that’s been mentioned but again, if he’s considering it, it’s thus far been behind the scenes.

Curtis Coleman, a Little Rock businessman and compatriot of former Gov. Mike Huckabee

Brantley keeps floating his name, so I include him here. Also, I don’t know what he looks like or have a photo of him, so we’re using that photo of ’80s superstar rapper Kurtis Blow as a placeholder.

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Who’s handicapping the race? Roby Brock at Talk Business, that’s who. Go over here to read an assessment (link is now fixed) of each GOP hopeful’s strengths and weaknesses.

Also, let’s not forget Lincoln’s recent announcement that she will not support union-backed card check legislation in the Senate. That move breathed new life into rumors that she might face a labor-backed primary challenge from the left (a scenario I find highly unlikely). And the name that’s frequently invoked as a possible primary challenger is Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Tolbert’s been keeping a close eye on this one, though Halter continues to say he has no such intentions. (The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Kane Webb asked Halter point blank, but he feigned exasperation and didn’t answer the question—see end of interview.)

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