WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Federation of Independent Business is endorsing Republicans over Democrats by a better than 10-1 margin in congressional races this year, but when it needed someone to head its campaign for "sensible" federal regulations it turned to a conservative Democrat, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
Lincoln, 51, lost her seat in 2010 in part because conservatives believed she was too close to President Barack Obama and liberals thought she was too distant from Democratic issues. The two-term senator, elected in 1998, was buried in an avalanche of defeats for a vanishing breed of white Southern Democrats.
Lincoln said in an interview she doesn't feel strange joining the NFIB's cause and bringing her centrist approach to efforts to stop what it calls a "tidal wave" of federal rules regulating pollutants in the air, discharges in waterways, oil and gas drilling, workplace safety and consumer products, among other things.
"I was a problem-solving Democrat," she said. "I don't believe I'm fighting for anything Democrats disagree with. There's also a place to compromise."
Those thoughts echoed her comments after she lost her Senate seat to Republican John Boozman. "The answers cannot be in the extremes," she said then. "They have to be in the middle."
The reality, however, is that Democrats and Republicans are not moving toward the middle on the regulation issue. House Republicans have passed a multitude of bills to stop or overturn government rules that the GOP labels job destroyers. Democrats counter that those same rules protect the air people breathe and water they drink, safeguard them from injuries and death on the job and protect children from dangerous toys.