Moreover, though the two enjoy jolly relations in Arkansas now, anything could happen by the November election, and state conservatives have a lot of sorting out to do if they are to unseat Lincoln.
No fewer than nine candidates have so far thrown their hats into the Republican ring. Two, businessman Tom Cox, and University of Arkansas official Randy Alexander, have tea party credentials, but tea partyers say members are still weighing their choices. The National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington, for its part, has not endorsed a candidate.
But in a state where the Republican Party lacks strong leadership, the energy is with the tea partyers. That’s as clear to conservative activist John Allison as the nose on his face.
“We are aggressively pursuing Blanche Lincoln to get her out of office, and that is our common goal” with the GOP, says the tea party member from rural Arkansas. “The most effective thing is to move into the Republican Party instead of splitting a conservative vote. We need to get involved with them and guide them back.”
“In our leadership and private meetings,” he says in a phone interview, “we have all agreed to be encouragers and accepting. We want the party to bring in those differences.... The tea party brings a more activist wing into an older GOP, which is in turn exciting and activating the lumbering elephant.”