Progressives Launch Online Effort To Draft Blanche Lincoln Opponent In AR

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A PAC funded by progressive groups including MoveOn.org, SEIU and Democracy for America has launched a website aimed at drawing Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter into a Democratic primary against Sen. Blanche Lincoln. Progressives have been talking about a Halter bid for months, promising him national support from like-minded Democrats fed up with Lincoln. Now it appears they’re trying to keep him in the Senate race as he toys with a run for Congress instead. DraftHalter.com launched this morning, allowing would-be Halter backers to promise him financial and volunteer support.

Rumors have swirled about a Halter challenge to Lincoln since late last year. As Greg Sargent reported last month, Halter traveled to D.C. in December to meet with leaders from the progressive and labor communities, who were united against Lincoln for her refusal to support card check legislation and her opposition to a public option in the health care reform bill.On Monday, however, news broke that Halter was “seriously considering” a run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Vic Snyder (D). Halter told CQ he had “received many telephone calls from Arkansans offering me encouragement and support” to run for Snyder’s seat. If Halter followed that path he would leave the progressives without a challenger for Lincoln. Activists on the left are hoping to unseat her and showcase their power to end the careers of moderate Democrats who stand in the way of the progressive agenda.

The Draft Halter site is run by Accountability Now, a PAC that is supported by, as the PAC’s website puts it, a coalition of “diverse and politically powerful groups” including “MoveOn, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), DailyKos, ColorOfChange.org, Democracy for America, 21st Century Democrats and BlogPAC.”

Late Update: An SEIU official emailed in after this post went up to clarify the union’s relationship with Accountability PAC and the Draft Halter site. The union confirmed it is a supporter of Accountability Now, and acknowledged it has funded it in the past. But the official said SEIU was not associated with the creation of the website. The official said the first they had heard of the website was this morning, and said SEIU had no opinion the site or its message. The union has been involved with Halter recently, that relationship did not include authorizing paying for the website to be built. In recent months, SEIU has repaid Halter’s outstanding campaign debt and has said Halter has a “bright political future.”

Later Update: A MoveOn official writes in, “Similar to SEIU, we are a supporter on Accountability Now. However, we had no prior knowledge of the ‘Draft Halter’ website before it went up nor did we contribute funds specifically for it. We have no official organizational position on the site or it’s message.”

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