With all eyes on her last night, Blanche Lincoln cast the deciding vote to push health reform forward—and simultaneously swung herself soundly into the epicenter of the brouhaha. By warning fellow Dems she won't support a final bill with a public option, she guaranteed their attention. But in casting the telling 60th vote, Lincoln, Arkansas' conservative senior senator, left herself wide open to Republicans eyeing her seat in 2010.
Lincoln claims political concerns are not foremost in her mind, but rather that she's "thinking about the 450,000 Arkansans who have no health insurance." She recently became chair of the Agriculture Committee, a post that could be beneficial for her rural state, but she's already weathered a $3 million ad campaign aimed at her. Democrats counter that Arkansans, who have less health coverage on average than other Americans, will reward her support of a bill.