Marc Ambinder reports that Arkansas's Blanche Lincoln -- who faces re-election in 2010 -- has declared her opposition to Card Check:
That's.... 57 votes in favor of cloture now. In-cycle Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas formally opposes the Employee Free Choice Act. She says it's "not necessary" right now. BTW: Lincoln's potential GOP opponent? Tim Griffin, the former White House political aide / Eastern District of Arkansas prosecutor / Karl Rove protege / native Arkansas / Iraq war veteran. Griffin says he'll make up his mind early next year. Democrats need 60 votes, or they might not even bring EFCA to the floor for a vote.
It's a shrewd move by Lincoln to announce her opposition early. Unions are sure to apply increasing pressure to undecided Senators as the session gets under way and a vote draws nearer. Her early declaration of opposition is sure to anger the unions, but they'll also recognize that it is nearly impossible for her to change her vote. They now must turn their attentions to other possible defectors.
As far as the vote count goes, the loss of Lincoln's vote is a major blow to hopes of enacting card check -- even if Arlen Specter continues to vote with Democrats on the issue. Besides the loss of Lincoln and the possibility of more defections, both Ted Kennedy and Bob Byrd face health issues that could prevent them from voting. And there will be three new Senators to account for -- with the possibility that the Illinois seat may not be filled for months.
The unions face a real challenge.