The BP oil spill made a dramatic entrance into electoral politics on Wednesday as two predominantly progressive groups took out ads tying Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) to "Big Oil," in general, and the crisis in the Gulf, specifically.
In a new television ad that will run in Arkansas from now until the Democratic U.S. Senate runoff election on June 8, the League of Conservation voters accused Lincoln of voting "to allow risky offshore drilling for BP and others."
"Big Oil has another gusher," the spot goes. "But this time it is tens of millions in campaign cash. Over the last two years Blanche Lincoln has taken more oil and gas money than any other U.S. Senator."
The spot represents some of the most overt politicization of the BP spill to date. And it will be telling to see how it resonates with Arkansas voters. At the very least it will be complimented by another ad campaign, again targeting Lincoln by tying her to the oil industry.
On Wednesday the Communications Workers of America put up their own television spot through its independent campaign arm accusing the senator of being in the pocket of "Big Oil." The spot will air for the next week in Arkansas.
"Blanche Lincoln says she works for Arkansas," the ad goes. "But for too long she has been helping oil companies get their way in Washington."
The parallel messages between the two ads are not the product of a coordinated effort between the groups. But they aren't simply coincidental either. The spill of oil into the Gulf has, for all the economic and environmental catastrophe that has ensued, created a political opening to spotlight the legislative clout of the oil industry. Lincoln's re-election contest happens to be the most immediate opportunity to shine that spotlight. But it stands to reason that as the spill goes on these ads will become more and more common.
"We get our information from Arkansas voters," said Chuck Rocha a consultant for CWA. "We have canvassers canvassing and talking to Arkansas voters every day. And what we are hearing at the doors is that people are fed up with what's going on win the Gulf but also with Washington politicians not representing their interests."