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2014 might be the year where failed Senate candidates become successful gubernatorial candidates.  2010 Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate, Joe Sestak (D) has long been rumored to challenge incumbent governor, Tom Corbett (R. PA).  Dr. Richard Carmona (D. AZ) who ran a close campaign for the U.S. Senate this past year recently expressed interest in running in the 2014 gubernatorial race in Arizona.  But the first failed Senate candidate to officially to announce his bid for governor is former Lt. Governor Bill Halter (D. AR):

LITTLE ROCK — Former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2014.

A spokesman for Halter announced Friday the former lieutenant governor would file paperwork next week to make his bid for the state's top office.

Halter's announcement came moments after a source told The Associated Press that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel would drop out of the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. McDaniel has since confirmed, in a statement on his website, that he his leaving race. - Arkansas Business, 1/25/13

This should be a race that progressives should be very excited about.  As you may remember, Halter entered the 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Arkansas to challenge corporate Democratic incumbent, Blanche Lincoln.  Halter is a true Progressive Democrat who was bold enough to stand up for gay rights in the state of Arkansas and was despised by the political establishment:  

Halter, after spearheading what has become an intensely popular statewide lottery, is riding a wave of popularity in the state, despite being an outspoken supporter of gay rights. Halter was a fierce opponent of an anti-gay-marriage amendment that passed in a landslide.

The lottery, though, has been a winning issue for him. "He will never be more popular in Arkansas than he is at this moment," said Brantley. "He's kind of a classic populist, progressive Democrat."

Halter would have a tough fight on his hands because Lincoln has locked down the support of the Arkansas political machine, which is no fan of Halter. "The political class despises him," Brantley said. "It's visceral. It's chemical. It's undeniable." That didn't stop him from winning the statewide race for lieutenant governor, however, he noted. - Huffington Post, 11/19/09

Halter's entrance into the race excited the Daily Kos community and helped Halter raise over $2 million dollars within the first month of his candidacy:

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has raised more than $2 million in the first month of his bid to unseat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the May 18 Democratic primary, his campaign said Wednesday.

Halter campaign manager Carol Butler did not have a final figure on how much cash the campaign has on hand because it was still collecting contributions before the midnight deadline for the first quarter report. Butler said the campaign's fundraising had exceed expectations.

"It's phenomenal to have $2 million in 31 days," Butler said Wednesday night.

Halter's challenge to Lincoln was embraced by labor unions and groups on the left such as, which have criticized Lincoln for her stances on issues such as health care and air pollution regulations. Labor unions have promised to spend more than $3 million in Arkansas to help Halter's challenge to Lincoln. - Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/1/10

One of the big issues Halter hit Lincoln hard on during the campaign was her contributions from HMOs that influenced her to water down the Affordable Health Care Act:

Congress and the President have done the right thing by reforming health care – although I would also have supported a bill that would have allowed the public to buy into a system that would have also provided more competition and choice.

While the bill wasn't perfect, and it could have been improved with more decisive action instead of only-in-Washington tactics, it will prevent people from being denied health care insurance due to pre-existing conditions and it will begin to provide more than 450,000 uninsured Arkansans the health care they need.

We need to continue to make progress on health care – and that means standing up to the insurance industry and special interests who like the system the way it is.  I supported the bill Congress recently passed to rein in health care costs and reduce our national debt.  And it helps our seniors who need it most by ending the donut hole in prescription drug coverage and improving Medicare solvency.  But Blanche Lincoln sided with the insurance companies and HMOs who gave her campaign more than $800,000 and voted against this effort to make health care reforms even better. -

Halter ran an amazing campaign causing Lincoln to have to defend her record and ended up having to face Lincoln in a runoff race.  Halter's candidacy was so alarming to big business special interests that they spent Super PAC cash to smear his name:

On Friday night, Americans for Job Security launched a television commercial featuring Indians in their native dress superimposed over scenes from a foreign street bazaar. In the ad, the Asians thank Halter for outsourcing jobs to Bangalore, India.

Americans for Job Security does not attribute any source for the statements against Halter that it makes in its commercial.

"The ad repeats a charge that is false -- the company on whose board Lt. Gov. Bill Halter served expanded its operations in India and there is no evidence that it outsourced jobs" the Halter campaign said in a statement. "Meanwhile, thousands of Arkansans have seen their jobs shipped overseas thanks to votes from Sen. Lincoln." Lincoln supported NAFTA, CAFTA, and other trade deals. - Politics Daily, 5/1/10

Unfortunately, local election officials made it harder for Halter supporters to cast their votes, causing Lincoln to win the runoff:
Garland County is the most populous county Bill Halter won 3 weeks ago, and could be key to his run-off victory this Tuesday. But election commissioner Charles Tapp reduced the number of polling places from 42 to 2.

Also, after personally promising Bill Halter there would be early voting this weekend, Tapp reversed course. Hundreds of voters showed up to vote yesterday but were denied. - Bold Progressives, 6/6/10

Of course we all know what happened.  Halter lost to Lincoln and Lincoln ended up losing to then congressman John Boozman who currently serves with Senator Mark Pryor (R. AR) who is up for re-election in 2014.  Mark Pryor is this guy:

Halter's experience with his Senate primary campaign has prepared him from this race.  Markos once wrote about how candidates can learn from their losses on how to win successful House races and Halter is no exception:  

2014 isn't just about maintaining control of the Senate and putting the gavel back in Pelosi's hand.  It's also about winning local races.  We have some great shots around the country to win governors races.  From what we're seeing in places like Virginia and North Carolina, we're seeing big money interest buying state legislators for the GOP and funding voter suppression efforts like voter ID laws and gerrymandering.  Arkansas is in danger of having the Republicans take over the governor mansion and we need to hold onto that office.  A Halter campaign will energize progressives not only in the state but around the nation to get involved with this race a Halter victory will usher in a new progressive era of Arkansas politics.  I for one love beating Republicans on their home turf and a candidate like Halter will certainly be making me write more about this race.  Stay tuned.

Originally posted to pdc on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:00 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and LGBT Kos Community.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Arkansas' Democratic political establishment... (3+ / 0-)

    ...doesn't have too much use for Halter. This according to what I've observed, and also according to an article this weekend in the "Arkansas Times," the state's only 'liberal' publication. It would be nice to have someone progressive in Arkansas' D.C. delegation, though. Years of Boozman, Tim Griffin, and right-wing Democrats like Blanche and Mark Pryor have almost erased the memory of Arkansas' true political giants...leaders like Bill Clinton, Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, J. W. Fulbright, etc. Thanks for this diary.

  •  I like this guy (3+ / 0-)

    He's not a classic progressive, but he seems to have inherent populist instincts.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:07:43 AM PST

  •  When "we, the people" take the reins of (2+ / 0-)

    government, then the political parties and their bosses become anachronistic, unless they can figure out something to make themselves useful. Democrats pre-selecting the "annointed one" and Republicans offering up "six of one, half dozen of the other" cookie cutter candidates is not helpful.

    Prior to universal suffrage, the political parties were quite content to divide the electorate amongst themselves to "do to" or "do for," but never to do the will of the people.

    If we're making progress, it's towards realizing the promise of "we, the people."  Of course, self-government is sort of a mystery to people whose behavioral repertoire is limited to imitation and repetition.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:32:44 AM PST

  •  If Halter wins... (3+ / 0-) a state trending red, like Arkansas, with an unabashedly populist approach...he could be a beacon of hope for populist Democrats throughout the South (and in red states throughout the country, for that matter).

    Many of us have been saying for a very, very long time that the best way for Democrats to take back the advantage nationally is to play to our strengths EVERYWHERE in the country...and if Democrats do have one strength left in the's a populist message that clearly signals to average, everyday, working people that they don't have to settle for oligarchial, corporate-owned Republicans.

    A win by Halter in Arkansas will be huge for team blue.

  •  For the Arkansas 2014 Senate race (0+ / 0-)

    Is there any hope of drafting Bill Clinton to primary Mark Pryor?

    Republicans are far more socialist than Democrats. Just because they want to redistribute the wealth upwards does not make it any better.

    by MrAnon on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:10:43 AM PST

  •  I'd like to see Halter win and voted for him (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when he ran against Lincoln but my biggest concern is stopping the nightmare that would result if Asa Hutchinson wins. If any Democrat polls close enough to make it a race, they have my vote.

    Problem is, I don't know of anyone. I'm glad that McDaniel pulled out though.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:44:02 AM PST

  •  I dropped a lot of coin on Halter's Senate run (0+ / 0-)

    & am frankly skeptical about this. There is almost certainly some anti-labor Democrat that the DLC/DNC can run against him, sending the Big Dog down there to support said anti-labor candidate, along with tons of bread. Until we get some assurance that this won't happen I see this as pretty marginal.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:14:36 AM PST

    •  Well Halter also worked in the Clinton (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Administration in it's last few years so I think the Big Dog would endorse Halter.  Clinton was put in a tough position between Halter and Lincoln because both of them were loyal to him during the 90s which is something Clinton likes to reward people for.  So lets wait and see.

      Funny Stuff at

      by poopdogcomedy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:54:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like Halter. (0+ / 0-)

    Sestak won't win.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:51:57 AM PST

  •  Becuz Halter & Sestak both primaried Conservadems (0+ / 0-)

    against the wishes of the Dem establishment,

    and in accordance with the wishes of most Kossacks and other Progressives,

    so: it is important that their political careers bounce back from their losses.

    Otherwise, the message will be clear that one's career is likely to be ended by primarying a Conservadem.

    This is particularly true of Halter, because the democratic establishment's support of Lincoln against his challenge was very intense, perhaps precisely in order to send that message. (In contrast, Sestak's incumbent target Arlen Specter was a recent party-switcher, presumably induced by promises of support which the Democratic establishment understandably decided to honor).

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