Arkansas News Bureau columnist David “J.” Sanders broke the news yesterday that Sen. Bob Johnson, Democrat from Bigelow, is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln. (Sanders floated the rumor on his blog over at AETN. That’s right: Sanders is blogging now. That means that, in addition to his twice-weekly column, monthly television show, Twitter feed and regular KARN radio appearances, he’s now able to annoy you entertain and inform you on an entirely new platform).
Johnson confirmed the rumor shortly thereafter, and he told reporter John Lyon that he’s a “Harry Truman Democrat” and made some statements that indicate he’d be running against the reigning Democratic majority in Washington. “Mr. Johnson must have decided the Republican primary is too crowded,” Lincoln’s campaign manager, Steve Patterson, wryly notes.
Now, Bob Johnson is a calculating man, so I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what his calculations might be. Lincoln commands an impressive fundraising apparatus, so he can’t compete on money; he admits as much in his interview with Lyon. He’s a more conservative Democrat than Lincoln, so he’ll run to her right. Is Lincoln weak among conservative-leaning rural Dems? Johnson also says that he’s received encouragement from current and former state legislators. Is that to suggest that Lincoln has unsteady relations with the state Democratic machine?
Or perhaps it’s all just a function of things like this. And things like this: