The labor unions and other "progressive" Democratic groups that threw gobs of money into the Arkansas primaries to defeat incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln are claiming victory today, even though she beat their preferred candidate Bill Halter. Labor unions alone spent $10 million on the campaign, which they intended as a reminder to the entire Democratic Party of their power to make or break candidates. The problem, of course, is that Lincoln won.
Instead of limping away with tails between their legs, the Progressives are putting a brave face on what can only be described as a devastating defeat. In today's Washington Post (here), labor organizer Steve Rosenthal is quoted as saying that forcing Senator Lincoln into such a close primary contest was "'a phenomenal victory.'" He'd probably have said the same thing about Gordon Brown's performance in last month's UK elections. Yes, by all means, let it a lesson to all Democratic incumbents: in a year when anti-incumbent sentiment is at its highest, a candidate targeted for defeat by the Progressives won anyway (albeit by just a few percentage points).
Just to set the record straight, I am not a supporter of Blanche Lincoln, who I expect will be trounced in the November general election by her Republican opponent John Boozman. Moreover, I am in substantial agreement with at least some of the Progressive agenda. But I find it irresistibly hilarious when people who expect to win and then lose claim victory anyway.