Arkansas: Boozman to Challenge Lincoln, Sources Say

Posted January 27, 2010 at 5:40pm

Barring a last-minute change of heart, Rep. John Boozman (R) appears set to jump into the Senate race in the coming days.

Sources on Capitol Hill said Wednesday that Boozman, the lone GOP Member of the state’s Congressional delegation, has made it clear that he intends to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) in November. Boozman already has much of his Senate campaign team in place, and the announcement is expected to take place in Arkansas before the weekend is out.

When asked about a potential Senate bid Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Boozman would only say, “Nothing has been announced officially.—

Boozman talked with National Republican Senatorial Committee officials and other Senate leaders this week in the wake of the firestorm that he created last week by openly acknowledging that he was considering making a Senate run.

“This is something that really for the last several weeks I have been thinking about,— Boozman said in an interview Monday.

Lincoln is viewed by some Republicans as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent of the cycle now that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has decided to step down. A poll last week showed the Senator’s approval rating falling back home, and Lincoln could still earn a serious primary challenge from the left from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. But Lincoln had a healthy $5 million war chest at the end of December.

State Sen. Gilbert Baker (R) has been viewed as the GOP frontrunner to challenge Lincoln and reaffirmed Tuesday that he will remain in the Senate race even with Boozman in, too.

Meanwhile, a source close to wealthy Arkansas real estate mogul and former Minnesota Vikings football player Jim Lindsey (R) said Wednesday that he is in the final stages of launching his own Senate bid.

Boozman’s entry into the Senate race would create the third open-seat race of the cycle in Arkansas, leaving Rep. Mike Ross (D) as the only Member of the House delegation running for re-election.

Republican sources in Arkansas view former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R) as the most likely candidate to fill Boozman’s shoes in the conservative seat, but Hutchinson’s level of interest is unknown.

After his long career in public service, Hutchinson now works as a lawyer and runs a homeland security consulting group.