Bill Halter

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Bill Halter
Bill Halter.jpg
18th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 9, 2007 – January 11, 2011
Governor Mike Beebe
Preceded by Win Rockefeller
Succeeded by Mark Darr
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
In office
January 21, 2001 – March 28, 2001
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Ken Apfel
Succeeded by Larry Massanari (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1960-11-30) November 30, 1960 (age 57)
North Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Stanford University (BA)
St John's College, Oxford (MPhil)

William A. Halter (born November 30, 1960) was the 14th Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected to succeed the late Republican Winthrop Paul Rockefeller in 2006, defeating Republican challenger Jim Holt.

Before his election as lieutenant governor, Halter served as the Deputy Commissioner (1999–2001) and Acting Commissioner (2001) of the Social Security Administration. He previously worked as a senior adviser in the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1999. A native of North Little Rock, he is a graduate of Stanford University and Oxford University.

He unsuccessfully challenged two-term incumbent Blanche Lincoln for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, losing in the June 8, 2010 runoff after neither won a majority in the May primary. After the bruising primary, Lincoln lost to her Republican opponent John Boozman in the general election.[1] Halter ran for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Arkansas in 2014 but dropped out, citing concerns over a divisive primary hurting Democratic chances for the seat.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

A fourth-generation Arkansan, Halter was born and raised in North Little Rock. He graduated from Little Rock Catholic High School as valedictorian of his class in 1979.

A National Merit Scholar and a 1981 Harry S. Truman Scholar,[3] he studied economics and political science at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors and distinction in 1983. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Upon graduation from Stanford, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England, where he received a Master of Philosophy degree in economics in 1986. Following his return to the United States, he became a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.[citation needed]

Public service[edit]

Halter entered the public sector, serving as an economist to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee and as chief economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. Following the election of fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton as President of the United States, Halter joined the new administration as a senior adviser in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 1993. He advised on a range of policy issues, reviewed and evaluated budgets and management practices of Federal cabinet departments, presented budget options to the President, and formulated Administration positions on domestic and international policy issues. He also coordinated the work of the President's Management Council, a group consisting of the Chief Operating Officers of the Federal Cabinet departments.[citation needed]

On October 1, 1999, Halter was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on November 10, 1999, becoming the first confirmed Deputy Commissioner of the SSA as an independent agency. As the agency's Chief Operating Officer, he was responsible for the delivery of more than $500 billion in benefits to over 48 million Americans and managed 65,000 employees in 1,500 offices.[citation needed]

During his tenure, he encouraged the use of computer technology in all aspects of SSA's operations. Of particular interest to Halter was the use of the Internet, both as an informational service and a service-delivery method. He pushed the Agency to accelerate its adoption of Internet service delivery and maintained constant pressure on the organization to find new and innovative ways to use the Internet in its business operations. From January 21 to March 28, 2001, Halter served as Acting Commissioner of the SSA during the first months of the administration of George W. Bush. Halter re-entered the private sector by joining the board of directors of several companies in biotechnology and information technology, including Akamai Technologies, webMethods, InterMune, Threshold Pharmaceuticals and Xenogen.[4]

Political career[edit]

In the run-up to the 2006 Arkansas elections, Halter initially ran for Governor of Arkansas, but dropped out in March 2006 and instead ran successfully for lieutenant governor. He won a Democratic primary election run-off against Tim Wooldridge and then defeated Jim L. Holt of Springdale, a conservative former Republican state legislator and Southern Baptist minister, in the general election.[5]

In 2007, there was speculation that Halter would run for the United States Senate against incumbent Mark Pryor in 2008,[6] but this did not occur. He chaired the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association and of the Southern Region of the National Lieutenant Governors Association.[7]

On March 1, 2010, Halter announced his candidacy in the 2010 U.S. Senate election, challenging two-term incumbent Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary. After one month of fund-raising, the Halter campaign announced that it had raised more than $2 million, mostly from out-of-state and from national labor unions.[8] On May 18, 2010, Halter and a minor third candidate prevented Lincoln from polling over 50% of the vote, thus triggering a runoff on June 8 between Lincoln and Halter, which Lincoln won.[9] Lincoln, however, lost her seat to her Republican opponent, United States representative John Boozman.[10]

Halter has been described as an outspoken supporter of gay rights and a "classic populist, progressive Democrat".[11]

Political positions[edit]

The economy[edit]

Halter supports investment in clean energy, making broadband accessible to all Arkansans and raising the minimum wage. He opposes trade deals that "send Arkansas jobs abroad and undermine American businesses by undercutting American workers by not requiring the same working conditions as American businesses have to meet."[12]


A supporter of the scholarship lottery, which has helped 28,000 families afford higher education without raising taxes, Halter supports making loans and grants more affordable. He criticised then-U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln's support for the big banks that profit from student loans. He supports the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act which would expand federal Pell Grants and end federally-subsidized private loans, using all federal student loan funding for direct loans and cutting the deficit by $87 billion over 10 years. Halter criticised Lincoln for opposing the act.[12]

Health care[edit]

Halter backs President Obama's efforts to reform health care, saying that although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could have been better, he supports it because it provides 450,000 uninsured Arkansans with health care. He criticized Blanche Lincoln for watering down the act, claiming she "sided with the insurance companies and HMOs who gave her campaign more than $800,000."[12]

Farming and rural communities[edit]

Halter has made agriculture one of his "top priorities", pledging to support farmers, not corporate agribusiness. He believes that too much money is given in subsidies to those who don't need it, whilst failing to provide support for family farmers.[12]

Consumer protection and financial reform[edit]

Halter has repeatedly criticised Congress' close relationship with special interests and lobby groups. He has said that banks that take taxpayers' money should be held to account. He supports reforms that get banks lending money to Main Street and small businesses whilst preventing a repeat of the financial crisis. Halter supports the creation of an independent watchdog agency, an end to sky-high corporate compensation, and better checks and balances on financial industry practices.[12]


Halter and his wife Shanti have two daughters. They are members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in North Little Rock.[12]

Electoral history[edit]

Arkansas Lieutenant Governor general election, 2006[13]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Bill Halter 437,490 57.36 +17.22
Republican Jim Holt 325,215 42.64 -17.32
Turnout 762,705 47.22
Democratic gain from Republican
United States Senate Democratic primary in Arkansas, 2010[14]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bill Halter 140,081 42.53
Democratic Blanche Lincoln 146,579 44.50
Democratic DC Morrison 42,695 12.96
United States Senate Democratic Primary Runoff in Arkansas, 2010[15]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Bill Halter 120,923 48.02 +5.49
Democratic Blanche Lincoln 130,898 51.98 +7.45


  1. ^ "The 2010 Results Maps". Politico.Com. Archived from the original on September 1, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  2. ^ "Halter to enter governor's race". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  3. ^ "Meet our 1981 Truman Scholars". The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. 
  4. ^ Bill Halter profile Archived July 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed September 23, 2014.
  5. ^ Profile,; accessed September 23, 2014.
  6. ^ Profile,; accessed September 23, 2014.
  7. ^ Bill Halter campaign website Archived 2011-09-16 at WebCite,; accessed September 23, 2014.
  8. ^ Demillo, Andrew (2010-04-01). "Halter raises more than $2M for Ark. Senate bid". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  9. ^ Arkansas Senate Race report Archived May 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed September 23, 2014.
  10. ^ "Oops, they weren't supposed to win",; accessed September 27, 2014.
  11. ^ Huffington Post report on Halter,; November 19, 2009; accessed September 23, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Halter campaign website Archived May 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed September 23, 2014.
  13. ^ Arkansas Lieutenant Governor general election results, 2006 Archived October 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed September 27, 2014.
  14. ^ United States Senate Arkansas Democratic Primary results, 2010,; accessed September 27, 2014.
  15. ^ United States Senate Arkansas Democratic Primary Runoff Election Results, 2010; accessed September 27, 2014.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ken Apfel
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration

Succeeded by
Larry Massanari
Preceded by
Win Rockefeller
Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
Mark Darr