Meet Bill Halter, my state's Lt. Gov and the man a lot of folks are hoping will shake up the Arkansas political scene, perhaps even with a primary to Senator Blanche Lincoln...
Bill Halter was the Social Security Administrator for Bill Clinton for awhile and came back to the state to run for office in 2006. At first he ran in the Democratic primary for Governor but quickly realized Mike Beebe had that wrapped up and dropped down to the Lt. Gov spot, a move that earned him a lot of anger from the candidates already in that race and their supporters.
I've got to admit, I was sceptical of Mr. Halter at first, but he's done a lot to make us proud. He delivered on a state lottery, something others had tried for years to do and failed and that others were too timid to do. And in the face of other Democrats like Mike Ross and Blanche Lincoln attacking healthcare reform efforts Halter has, as shown in the Countdown video, embraced the cause by working to bring a free clinic to Little Rock. What's more, a couple of years back we had a nasty anti-gay amendment that banned adoption and foster parenting by any "unmarried couple" be they straight or gay. Halter was the only prominent Arkansas Democrat I can remember actually getting out and working against it (others like Mike Beebe and Dustin McDaniel voiced opposition, and Beebe tried to derail it quietly in the legislature, so credit where it is due-but still and yet, Halter was the only one I recall who actually joined the fight against it.) You can watch him in action on that one here. (Couldn't get the video to embed.)
So yeah, Halter's shown that someone can be reasonably progressive in Arkansas and still win an election. He's also showing that progressive policy can deliver for people. He's got his faults-his ambition shows in a state that requires politicians to at least appear humble, something he's made a lot of progress on from when I first met him, and he can come off as rather prickly in private. But he doesn't think like the rest of the Arkansas political establishment, which is important, and his heart, I think, is in the right place.
But you want to know what my favorite part is? He got some good press for rescuing a wheelchair bound woman from a fire a little while back.
A lot of people are now speculating that Halter will take on Lincoln. Halter himself hasn't said yeah or nay on that. It may depend on how Lincoln votes on healthcare reform. Regardless, I want to hold him up to show all of you here that there are Democrats in Arkansas who are nothing like Blanche Lincoln or Mike Ross. And if you want to learn more about progressive Democrats in Arkansas, you can keep up with development on that front on my blog, Blue Arkansas.
Update [2009-11-19 0:47:50 by ARDem]:: Sorry folks, for some odd reason I can't embed any videos. You can see Bill Halter on Countdown on my site and the Countdown site though: