Blanche Lincoln

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Blanche Lincoln
Lincoln-portrait-2007.jpg
United States Senator
from Arkansas
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2011
Preceded by Dale Bumpers
Succeeded by John Boozman
Chairperson of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
In office
September 9, 2009 – January 5, 2011
Preceded by Tom Harkin
Succeeded by Debbie Stabenow
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by William Alexander
Succeeded by Robert Berry
Personal details
Born (1960-09-30) September 30, 1960 (age 53)
Helena, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Steve Lincoln
Alma mater Randolph College
Religion Episcopal
Signature

Blanche Meyers Lambert Lincoln (born September 30, 1960) is an American lobbyist and politician who was a U.S. Senator from Arkansas from 1999 to 2011. Lincoln, a member of the Democratic Party, was first elected to the Senate in 1998; she was the first woman elected to the Senate from Arkansas since Hattie Caraway in 1932 and, at age 38, was the youngest woman ever elected to the Senate.[1] She previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Arkansas's 1st congressional district from 1993 to 1997.

Lincoln was the first woman and the first Arkansan to serve as chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.[1] She also served as the Chair of Rural Outreach for the Senate Democratic Caucus. In 2010 she ran for a third term, but lost by a 58%-37% margin to Rep. John Boozman, whose brother, Fay Boozman, she defeated in Arkansas's 1998 Senate election.[2]

Early life, education and career[edit]

A seventh-generation Arkansan, Blanche Lambert was born in Helena, Phillips County, to Martha (née Kelly) and Jordan Bennett Lambert.[3][4] Her father was a rice and cotton farmer.[3][5] Her older sister, Mary Lambert, is a film director.[6] She received her early education at the local public schools in Helena, and was the student council president at Central High School from 1977 to 1978.[3]

Lincoln attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where she was a member of the Chi Omega sorority.[3] She graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1982, earning a Bachelor's degree in biology.[7] She originally sought to go into nursing.[8]

After graduating from college, Lincoln served as a staff assistant for U.S. Representative Bill Alexander, a Democrat from Arkansas's 1st congressional district.[7] She remained in Alexander's office until 1984.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives career[edit]

In 1992, Lincoln defeated Alexander (who had become a major figure in the House banking scandal) in the Democratic primary, by a margin of 61 to 39 percent. She subsequently won the general election, beating Republican Terry Hayes with 70% of the vote. Her election to the House coincided with the election of fellow Arkansan, Bill Clinton, as President of the United States.

She calls herself a centrist Democrat and was among the minority of Democrats to support CAFTA. While in the House, she was one of only 17 Democrats to vote for the Teamwork for Employees and Managers Act of 1995 which sought to change federal employment laws. The law was vetoed by President Bill Clinton. She has voted in favor restricting class action lawsuits and tightening rules on personal bankruptcy. Lincoln was also one of the few Democrats in Congress to vote in favor of Bush administration's tax cuts and she supports the permanent elimination of the estate tax.

On April 5, 1995 she was one of only 27 Democrats in the House to vote in favor of the Contract With America Tax Relief Act, which was approved by the House. Lincoln also co-sponsored and supported legisation to amend the constitution to require a balanced-budget amendment. In 1996 she championed the Freedom to Farm Act.

She was reelected to a second term under her married name, Blanche Lincoln, and served in the House of Representatives until 1997. Lincoln chose not to run for reelection in 1996; she was pregnant at that time.

U.S. Senate career[edit]

Lincoln speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In 1998, Lincoln returned to politics and ran for the Senate seat being vacated by incumbent Senator Dale Bumpers. She defeated her Republican opponent, Fay Boozman (1946–2005), a state senator and the brother of future U.S. Representative John Boozman, 385,878 (55.1 percent) to 295,870 (42.2 percent).

Lincoln served on the Senate Finance Committee; Special Committee on Aging; Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; Senate Social Security Task Force; Rural Health Caucus; Senate New Democrat Coalition and chair of the Rural Outreach for the Senate Democratic Caucus.

On September 9, 2009, she was tapped as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee. In the Committee’s 184-year history, she is the first Arkansan and the first woman to serve as Chairman.

Lincoln concentrated primarily on issues involving farmers and rural issues. She is one of the primary advocates of the Delta Regional Authority, which is designed to spur development in the lower Mississippi Delta region.

Lincoln holds a press conference with Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee regarding Medicare and the proposed changes to the system.

Lincoln served as Arkansas's Senior Senator since 2003, serving with fellow Arkansan Mark Pryor who defeated Senator Tim Hutchinson. In 2004, Lincoln was re-elected, defeating Republican state Senator Jim Holt (R-Springdale) by 56%-to-44%, even as President Bush carried the state with 54% of the vote.

In 2004, Lincoln co-founded the Senate Hunger Caucus. The caucus was established to provide a bi-partisan forum for Senators and staff to discuss, advance and engage the Senate's work on national and international hunger and food insecurity issues.[9]

Lincoln called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, claiming that the firing of eight federal prosecutors created a "serious breach between the Justice Department and Congress, a breach that I'm not sure can be repaired with Mr. Gonzales at the helm." She and her Senate colleague, Mark Pryor, were particularly upset that Gonzales reneged on a promise to have a replacement for Bud Cummins, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, go through Senate confirmation. Gonzales ultimately did resign, in August 2007.

Senator Lincoln speaking in Jonesboro, Arkansas, on October 25, 2008.

In 2007, Lincoln played a key role in brokering the compromise that led to passage of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Also known as the “farm bill,” this legislation provides resources for nutrition, conservation, rural development, and renewable energy. Lincoln led the charge against defeating an amendment to the pending Farm Bill which would have capped government Agricultural subsidy payments at $250,000 per year, per farm. According to Lincoln, it was unfair to some farmers in her state, notably cotton growers. Even though the amendment passed (56-43), Lincoln threatened a filibuster if any amendment did not get a 60-vote majority, so the amendment was withdrawn after passage.

Lincoln with other female Senators of the 110th Congress

Lincoln also helped form the Moderate Dems Working Group, a coalition of moderate Senate Democrats whose stated goal is to work with Senate leadership and the administration toward finding bipartisan solutions to controversial political issues. In addition, she co-founded and currently co-chairs Third Way, a moderate think-tank whose self-described goals are "an economic agenda that is focused on growth and middle class success; a culture of shared values; a national security approach that is both tough and smart; and a clean energy revolution." [10]

In September 2009, Lincoln pledged to filibuster any legislation containing a Public health insurance option, such as the Affordable Health Care for America Act (the Democrat-controlled, House of Representatives' preferred health care reform bill).[11] This move came as a surprise to liberal Democrats, who largely interpreted the move as a betrayal of traditional Democratic values. Lincoln voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Senate bill that eventually became the Barack Obama administration's health care reform law. However, she voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, a package of amendments to the Affordable Care Act—passed via reconciliation process, to circumvent united Republican attempts to block the bill's passage—in the Senate. This was yet another policy position that Lincoln appeared to taking as part of a pragmatic strategy to position herself as a high-profile, "conservative Democrat", to avoid being perceived as a "liberal" by an Arkansas voting public that had turned extremely conservative in recent years. Appearing to support any public policy that conservatives deemed "liberal" would severely hurt her chances of re-election. She also spoke out in opposition to the pro-labor union bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act; this garnering her the praise of conservative interest groups like Americans for Tax Reform, but also bitter criticisms from labor unions, who publicly threatened to discourage Arkansas' remaining Democrat-leaning voters from voting for her.[12]

On December 9, 2010 Lincoln missed a critical vote to repeal Don't ask, don't tell after a dental appointment and missed voting by three minutes. A supporter of the bill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), told reporters: "She was very frustrated and apologized to both of us." She said she would have voted for repeal had she made the vote.[13]

Lincoln opposes bringing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the United States for trial.[14]

In the end, Lincoln's re-election strategy of depicting herself to Arkansas voters as 'independent' of the Democrats failed to win her re-election in 2010, as the Obama Administration had become hugely unpopular in her home state. She lost to Republican Congressman John Boozman by a landslide, 58%-to-37%.

Her older sister is film director Mary Lambert, who directed the documentary 14 Women, which includes Lincoln herself.

After Congress[edit]

Lincoln remained in Washington after her loss, working as "Special Policy Advisor" at the firm of Alston & Bird.[15]

In 2011 Lincoln became chair of Small Business for Sensible Regulations,[16] a project of the National Federation of Independent Business

Electoral history[edit]

2010 United States Senate election in Arkansas – general election [17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican John Boozman 451,618 57.90%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 288,156 36.95%
Independent Trevor Drown 25,234 3.24%
Green John Laney Gray, III 14,430 1.85%
2010 United States Senate election in Arkansas – Democratic primary runoff [18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 134,756 52.00%
Democratic Bill Halter 124,405 48.00%
2010 United States Senate election in Arkansas – Democratic primary [19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 146,579 44.50%
Democratic Bill Halter 140,081 42.53%
Democratic DC Morrison 42,695 12.96%
2004 United States Senate election in Arkansas – general election [20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 580,973 55.90%
Republican Jim Holt 458,036 44.07%
1998 United States Senate election in Arkansas – general election [21]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 385,878 53.40%
Republican Fay Boozman 295,870 42.22%
Independent Charley E. Heffley 18,896 2.70%
1998 United States Senate election in Arkansas – Democratic primary runoff [22]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 134,203 62.39%
Democratic Winston Bryant 80,889 37.61%
1998 United States Senate election in Arkansas – Democratic primary [23]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert Lincoln 145,009 45.49%
Democratic Winston Bryant 87,183 27.35%
Democratic Scott Ferguson 44,761 14.04%
Democratic Nate Coulter 41,848 13.13%
1994 Arkansas's 1st congressional district – general election [24]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert 95,290 53.40%
Republican Warren Dupwe 83,147 46.60%
1992 Arkansas's 1st congressional district – general election [25]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert 149,558 69.83%
Republican Terry Hayes 64,618 30.17%
1992 Arkansas's 1st congressional district – Democratic primary [26]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Blanche Lambert 3,599 60.50%
Democratic Bill Alexander 2,179 39.50%

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Biography". U.S. Senator Blance Lincoln. 
  2. ^ "Leadership | Senate Democrats". Democrats.senate.gov. 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Blanche Meyers Lambert Lincoln (1960–)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. 
  4. ^ "Arkansas Congressional Directory". Govnotes.com. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  5. ^ "About". Blanche Lincoln for Senate. 
  6. ^ "Mary Lambert". The Internet Movie Database. 
  7. ^ a b "LINCOLN, Blanche Lambert, (1960 - )". Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress. 
  8. ^ Barton, Paul (2009-06-18). "From Congress to Costco". Arkansas Times. 
  9. ^ Faler, Brian (November 25, 2004). "Senators Form Hunger Caucus to Draw Attention to Issue". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  10. ^ "About Us". Third Way. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  11. ^ Brian Beutler (November 21, 2009). "Lincoln: "I'll Filibuster A Public Option Bill" | TPMDC". Tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  12. ^ Prandoni, Chris (2009-10-19). "Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) Reiterates Opposition to Employee Free Choice Act". Workerfreedom.org. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  13. ^ Brian Beutler December 9, 2010, 6:28 PM (2010-12-09). "Root Canal’d! Lincoln Misses DADT Vote In Dentist Chair | TPMDC". Tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  14. ^ "Lincoln, Pryor back bid to block funding to hold terror suspects in U.S. | Arkansas News". Arkansasnews.com. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  15. ^ "Blanche L. Lincoln - Legislative and Public Policy Lawyer - Alston & Bird LLP". Alston.com. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  16. ^ "Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations". Sensibleregulations.org. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  17. ^ "Arkansas Secretary of State". Votenaturally.org. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  18. ^ "Arkansas Secretary of State". Votenaturally.org. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  19. ^ "Arkansas Secretary of State". Votenaturally.org. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  20. ^ "2004 ELECTION STATISTICS". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  21. ^ "1998 Election Statistics - Legislative Activities - Office of the Clerk". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ [2][dead link]
  24. ^ "94 CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION STATISTICS". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  25. ^ "92 PRESIDENTIAL and CONGRESSIONAL ELECTION STATISTICS". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  26. ^ [3][dead link]

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Alexander
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Arkansas's 1st congressional district

1993–1997
Succeeded by
Robert Berry
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dale Bumpers
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Arkansas
(Class 3)

1998, 2004, 2010
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Dale Bumpers
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Arkansas
1999–2011
Served alongside: Tim Hutchinson, Mark Pryor
Succeeded by
John Boozman
Preceded by
Tom Harkin
Chairperson of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Debbie Stabenow