A Runoff for Lincoln: Good News for Wall Street Reform?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) | Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbcworldservice/4614603994/"">bbcworldservice</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>)

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


We don’t yet know the final results of the Arkansas Senate Democratic primary, but one thing is certain: this race headed for a runoff. Neither incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln nor her union-backed challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, will get the 50 percent needed to avoid a rematch on June 8.

The extension of this primary contest is good news for supporters of strong financial regulatory reform. When Lincoln released her proposal to regulate financial derivatives on April 13, many observers were shocked by its toughness. Lincoln’s bill would force almost all derivatives onto exchanges, where it would be more transparent for traders and regulators. It would also force big Wall Street banks to spin off their derivatives desks—separating a practice that critics deride as gambling from other banking activities.

So why would a normally conservative, red-state Democrat go so hard on the banks? One theory is that Halter’s primary challenge pushed Lincoln to the left. Under this scenario, Lincoln worried that her opponent could accuse her of being too close to Wall Street, so she made her reform bill as tough as possible in order to preempt any attacks.

As primary day drew near, Lincoln hinted that she might be open to giving up her derivatives stand. But now that the contest is going into overtime, it will be very hard for her to change course without paying a price at the polls. With her left flank still vulnerable, Lincoln will feel pressure to stand tall on derivatives. Financial reform is at a crucial juncture—a key Democratic senator has expressed worries that the process “fell off a cliff” on Tuesday, as Republicans suddenly stopped cooperating. The weeks between now and Lincoln’s runoff are critical. But since Lincoln still has to worry about Halter, supporters of strict derivatives regulation probably won’t have to worry about her.

Also happening Tuesday night: Rand Paul wins the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky and Dems rejoice, while Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter goes down to defeat in Pennsylvania.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.