After Hyping Union Push to Defeat Lincoln in Ark., Times Plays It Straight After Left-Wing Loss

After playing up the push by national union groups and liberal advocates to unseat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas Democratic primary runoff election, the paper had some well-informed coverage of the union failure in Wednesday's edition. The stack of headlines to Wednesday's lead story showed the failure of the union-backed effort in support of Lincoln's Democratic primary opponent Lt. Gov. Bill Halter: "Incumbent Holds Her Senate Seat In Arkansas Race - Is Democratic Nominee - Lincoln Turns Back a Well-Financed Effort on Left Flank." Lincoln beat Halter 52%-48% and will square off against the Republican candidate in November, Rep. John Boozman.

In a switch, Jeff Zeleny and Adam Nagourney actually emphasized the left-wing ideology of Lincoln's opponents:

Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas survived a tough challenge from her party's left wing on Tuesday to capture the Democratic nomination in a runoff primary election, resisting the anti-incumbent wave that has defined the midterm election year.

Mrs. Lincoln withstood a multi-million-dollar campaign against her from organized labor, environmental groups and liberal advocacy organizations from outside Arkansas as she prevailed over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She faces a difficult contest in the fall, but her victory challenges the suggestion that voters are poised to oust all officeholders.

Congressional reporter Carl Hulse also captured the scene accurately in "Anti-Incumbent Rage Bypasses Arkansas."

Labor unions, environmental groups and liberal activists, unhappy with her opposition to a public health insurance option and her other moderate stances, were eager to make an example of her, pouring millions into attack advertisements.

Although the Times has typically painted Lincoln as a conservative Democrat, her historical voting record is safely left of center. She carries a lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union of 19 out of a possible 100. She's just not as far left as the unions would like on health care and the elimination of the secret ballot at companies that hold votes on whether to establish a union (benignly termed "card check" by unions and media outlets).

The Times hyped the challenge to Lincoln from the left in previous editions, like Sunday's story by Shaila Dewan and Steven Greenhouse, "Unions Support Halter to Defeat Senator Lincoln in Senate Runoff." Here's an excerpt:

They have knocked on 170,000 doors, made 700,000 phone calls, sent 2.7 million pieces of mail and spent almost $6 million on television and radio advertising.

That is how badly labor unions, by their own count, want to defeat Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat they once supported. Even though Arkansas's labor force is one of the least unionized in the country, labor has thrown huge support behind Mrs. Lincoln's primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, in a runoff election on Tuesday.


Mrs. Lincoln, who has received more than half a million dollars in labor money in her career, has done much to anger unions. She opposed a public option in the health care bill; helped block the confirmation of Craig Becker, a union-backed nominee to the National Labor Relations Board; and, in what they viewed as a reversal, opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier to unionize workers.

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