Trailing her GOP opponent by as much as 30 points in some polls, Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln has decided to spend as little time as possible in D.C. this month, even as the Senate prepares to come back into session Monday for three to four weeks.
Lincoln will come to town for important votes, Democratic sources said, but she will spend most of her time in Arkansas campaigning for a third term in her race against Republican Rep. John Boozman. Lincoln has spent much of the past two years fighting for her seat; in June, she defeated Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Democratic primary runoff, 52 percent to 48 percent.
“She is planning on coming back to D.C. as little as possible between now and November but it’s because she needs that time to campaign,” said one Senate Democratic aide.
Lincoln is expected back next week to help Democrats get the 60 votes they need to beat back a filibuster on a small-business lending bill, but it was unclear whether she planned to stick around for debates on extending Bush-era tax cuts, a stopgap spending bill to keep the government funded until after the election or any other measures the Senate considers this month.
Lincoln spokeswoman Marni Goldberg said Lincoln, who chairs the Agriculture panel, would not neglect her duties. “Senator Lincoln will be in the Senate to vote and adhere to Senate Agriculture Committee business as needed,” she said.
Democratic aides noted that Lincoln may not be the only endangered Democratic incumbent to skip some Senate business this month, given the practice is not uncommon for candidates in tough races. But no other vulnerable Democrats appear to have notified leaders of their expected absences as of yet.
By CQ-Roll Call Staff