In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Little Room On Lincoln's Left As Democrats Prep To Rally Behind Arkansas Conservadem

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"It never helps us to have a primary and if she has to spend all that money in the primary that's a problem," a Democratic strategist said in an interview, speaking privately to be able to freely discuss the intra-party battle.

State Democrats admitted in interviews with us that Lincoln's poll standing doesn't look good, but they blamed in part the national attention on the race. They said Arkansans recognize Lincoln's critical role as the new chairman of the Agriculture Committee and will choose her in the May 18 primary - and, Democrats hope, in the fall - with that in mind.

The strategist said Lincoln is as "homegrown" as you can get in the Natural State, and believes that liberal blogger campaigns, MoveOn.org emails and ActBlue fundraising attempts won't convince the state's Democratic voters to choose Halter.

An Arkansas Democrat familiar with the race told TPMDC today in an interview the primary could do more harm than good for the party's causes.

"The movement in the whole country seems to be this anger on the right, and it sure as hell isn't swinging to the left in Arkansas," the source said.

The source added: "If they are running to the left, where does that leave them in the unlikely event their efforts are successful? An Arkansas Democrat is a unique Democrat and we're successful here largely when left to our own devices."

Sources said privately that Halter is not popular or liked by state party officials and has proven to be a "lousy fundraiser." Others questioned whether Halter would even equivocally back the things progressives would want. For example, Halter hedged about supporting the Employee Free Choice Act in this interview with Roll Call.

It's not like unpopular Sen. Chris Dodd's decision not to seek reelection, a move that helped Democrats breathe a sigh of relief since he was in such trouble in the polls. By stepping aside Dodd (D-CT) helped the party's chances of keeping his seat blue.

Despite the support from senators including Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), it's not a sure thing that Lincoln will have united backing from her fellow Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) told me he wasn't sure if some progressives might support Halter.

Kerry said Lincoln has nothing to worry about from her Senate colleagues. "I don't think there is any risk whatsoever that would happen," Kerry told me.