As Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) pivots from her surprise primary victory on Tuesday night to her general election run against Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark), she finds herself deserted both by traditional allies and outside groups that helped her win the nomination.
The pro-business organization Americans for Job Security played an influential role in helping Lincoln beat her challenger, Bill Halter, by running a controversial ad campaign in which Indian actors thanked the Lt. Governor for outsourcing American jobs to their country. The spots were effective (Lincoln echoed the message in mailers of her own). And they carried a ton of weight -- AJS put $1.8 million behind the campaign.
But with Halter now out, the group is poised to stop its engagement. AJS President Stephen DeMaura wouldn't completely rule out running ads in a Lincoln-Boozman election. But in an interview with the Huffington Post, he said it was "probably likely" that they wouldn't run ads.
"What we see as one of our primary roles is counteracting labor's influence," he said, "and they were obviously an enormous force last night."
And now that labor is no longer a force in the race, would it stand to reason that AJS won't be airing ads? "That is exactly the way I'd view it," DeMaura replied, stressing that the group's primary goal was to expose Halter as acting hypocritically to ensure his defeat.
"We don't really have [a strategy] yet. I think, like everyone, we are assessing the national environment. The one takeaway from last night was the rejection of the American people of Big Labor and their radical agenda."
Lincoln, of course, would have been naïve to expect Americans for Job Security to continue to bash her opponents on her behalf. The group's primary purpose is to promote open markets. It attacked Halter (in highly explosive terms) because his position on trade was the more progressive of the two candidates. It won't have the same philosophical gripes with Boozman. If anything, it will support him over Lincoln.
That said, AJS's departure from the race creates yet another financial and political hurdle with which the Lincoln campaign must grapple. The incumbent Democrat already seems poised to enter the general election contest without the backing of the labor community, which spent more then $10 million to wholeheartedly defeat her during the primary campaign and don't seem eager to come to a diplomatic accord any time soon.
As a labor source said on Tuesday -- after they vilified Lincoln and she, in turn, vilified unions: "How in the world can labor turn around and support her?"