Gilbert Baker in U.S. Senate race UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Gilbert Baker in U.S. Senate race UPDATE

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 11:05 AM

State Sen. Gilbert Baker, after several months of vacillation, issued a brief statement today indicating he's in the Republican primary race for U.S. Senate. A big field is developing to challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln.

Baker said an Arkansas senator should help provide  "checks and balances on the policies being pushed by President Obama and the D.C. leadership."

Here's his statement. And here's his bio.

UPDATE: On jumps, Dems and Repubs sniping. And one Republican candidate feels betrayed by Baker.

Curtis Coleman, a Little Rock businessman who enjoys ties, including a daughter-in-law on his campaign staff, to Mike Huckabee,  is already in the race. So is state Sen. Kim Henbren, who hails from Republican-rich Benton County. There are many more rumored and announced, too numerous to list. But they include Fred Ramey, Buddy Rogers, Conrad Reynolds, Tom Cotton, Tom Cox, Trevor Drown (an independent, I"m reminded) and perhaps an Asian newcomer, Kit Chen-sink. (lame joke; the epic list of names put me in mind of Click and Clack's close, sorry for offending Mr. Bud Tugly.).

Baker has had bipartisan success in the Arkansas legislature, with an easy manner and his membership in the Senate Brotherhood. But ideology doesn't count for much in the state legislature. His political roots are pure conservative Republican with a religious flavor. He raised a ton of money to easily survive a re-election challenge last year and that's thought to give him the tools to propel him to some early money in the U.S. Senate race. Early money is like yeast, they say. Makes you rise.

Will Baker's buddy, Democratic Sen. Bob Johnson of Bigelow, make good on his talk of challenging Lincoln now that Baker is in? Will his emergence discourage some of the cast of thousands? It ain't even 2010 yet.

Baker once saw the race as a real long-shot and opted to not seek to move to Washington and leave a large family behind. Lincoln's low poll numbers have changed everyone's thinking.

National Republican Senatorial Committee comments:

“Today’s announcement by Gilbert Baker is another indication that Blanche Lincoln is facing an uphill battle in her quest for re-election in 2010. The growing field of Republican and Democrat challengers in Arkansas demonstrates Lincoln’s vulnerability, thanks in great part to her record in support of the Obama tax and spend agenda, including the massive stimulus bill, pork-laden omnibus, and bloated budget. Lincoln has failed to lead on critical issues such as health care and card check, and has instead resisted taking positions entirely in order to preserve has own political future. As her sagging poll numbers indicate, Blanche Lincoln has lost touch with the people of Arkansas, and she will be forced to answer for her record next November.” – Amber Wilkerson, NRSC spokeswoman

Democrats respond:

In response to Gilbert Baker entering the Arkansas Senate race, Eric Schultz, Communications Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, released the following statement:
“Gilbert Baker joins a crowded cast of characters better suited for a sitcom than for elected office. As Baker’s record comes under close examination, the people of Arkansas will find a Little Rock insider who repeatedly puts his own self-interest above those he has pledged to serve. He has never met a pork project he doesn’t like and will have to answer for his endless spending in Little Rock.”



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