Sen. Blanche Lincoln, fighting to keep her job, is trying to convince Arkansas voters that she heard their frustration with Washington when they sent her into a runoff for the Democratic nomination.
As early voting began Tuesday, Lincoln and her rival, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, started to make their closing arguments to voters through their final television and radio ads.
Lincoln faces the camera directly in her 30-second TV spot and seems to acknowledge her difficult position in next Tuesday's runoff. She is considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents seeking re-election after raising the ire of both the right and the left with her votes on health care reform.
"I know you're angry at Washington. Believe me, I heard you on May 18," Lincoln says, then adds later in the spot, "I'd rather lose this election fighting for what's right than win by turning my back on Arkansas."
Lincoln, who campaigned last week with former President Bill Clinton, also began airing a new radio ad featuring him. She had already been airing spots featuring Clinton and President Barack Obama.
One of Halter's new ads, meanwhile, featured people holding signs with slogans such "No more flip flops," "Stand up to Wall Street," and "Change Washington."
"The only way to change Washington is to change who we send there," Halter says in the ad.
Whichever of them wins the runoff will face Republican Congressman John Boozman in November.
The race has become one of the most expensive and heated in the state's history, with Lincoln and Halter reporting last week that they've spent more than $10 million combined.
Outside interest groups, including the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have also poured millions of dollars into the race.
Unions backing Halter's bid spent more than $5 million in the weeks leading up to the runoff, and labor officials privately say they could be spending a similar amount during the three-week runoff campaign, with the bulk spent on TV ads. That amount is for independent expenditures not coordinated with Halter's Senate campaign.
© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.