A senior White House official just called me with a very pointed message for the administration's sometime allies in organized labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama's candidate, in Arkansas.
"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members' money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."
The back story: for reasons that aren't entirely clear, Big Labor went all-out to defeat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Arkansas primary yesterday, but failed. As noted above, they spent about $10 million on a primary race and their candidate, Bill Halter, lost anyway.
Here's the thing: I'd be hard pressed to think of a less propitious place for Big Labor to get involved in a campaign. Arkansas is a Right to Work state and the unions there are fringe players, at best. Arkansas has also become fairly reliably Republican since the Clintons left Little Rock nearly two decades ago. The only sort of Democrat who can win down there is someone like Lincoln, who toes the party line but then makes a show of regretting it later. Even if Big Labor had pushed Halter over the top, he would have been crushed in the general election. So why go through the exercise? I'll bet Tarryl Clark would have liked some of that money. Meanwhile, Lincoln had to blow through most of her campaign funds just to get to the general election. Now she'll get crushed. Pretty much a win-win from my perspective.
It appears that the idea here was to Teach Wayward Democrats a Lesson. As often happens, the lesson taught varies widely from the lesson learned.