After a hard-fought Democratic primary campaign, neither Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln nor Lt. Gov. Bill Halter won the necessary 50.1 percent of votes required to secure the Senate nomination, requiring a June 8 runoff election. Yesterday's primary was closer than polls predicted—Halter walked away with 42.7 percent of the vote, under two points less than Lincoln's 44.3 percent. Recent polls showed Halter trailing Lincoln by at least 10 points. [See which industries gave the most money to Lincoln's campaign.]
The two candidates have three weeks to make their final pitches to Arkansa voters. Both declared an assured June 8 victory and claimed to be the people's candidate before cheering supporters last night, Lincoln with a fighter's rallying cry and Halter unable to conceal his elated grin.
"If they thought they could write us off, well guess what?" Lincoln shouted over the crowd. "They got another thing coming!"
Halter towed his familiar anti-incumbent line. "If you send the same people to Washington, you're guaranteed to get the same results," he said.
The runoff comes as many in the country look for signs of how the anti-Washington mood will impact the general elections in November, when the winner of the Democratic primary will gear up to battle Republican Rep. John Boozman. Recent polls show both Democrats behind Boozman, who pulled off an outright victory over the seven other candidates in Arkansas's Republican primary yesterday.
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