Filing season began in Arkansas on Monday, and if the 2010 election season is half as rowdy as the state Capitol rotunda became, then Arkansans are in for some colorful races.
U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., officially filed for re-election as a vocal group of 75-100 protesters chanted "bye-bye Blanche" and held up signs with messages claiming she is part of "big government."
The filing period runs March 1-8, and candidates for state and federal office began the filing process at noon. The state Secretary of State's office is tweeting updated filings in real time. Follow the updates here.
Lincoln's appearance around 1:30 p.m. sent what was already a packed second-floor rotunda into a frenzy. She has already drawn a large field of Republicans seeking their party's nomination to face her in the general election. And early Monday, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter announced he would file Tuesday to challenge Lincoln in the Democratic primary.
At the filing on Monday, one Lincoln protester maneuvered her way through the throng to appear before Lincoln as she filled out paperwork. Lincoln looked up and smiled, receiving a round of "bye-bye Blanche" chants.
One man who helped initiate the "bye bye Blanche" chants was taken to task by state Sen. Randy Laverty, D-Jasper. (See video below.)
Laverty told the man he'd had his chance to "show his ass," and that it was time for him to be quiet. Protesters responded that they were within their rights to be there and chant against Lincoln.
Meanwhile, Third District congressman John Boozman, R-Ark., was at the Capitol to file his candidacy in the Republican primary for the Senate seat Lincoln holds. Boozman enters a race that already includes up to nine announced GOP candidates.
(Video: Click here to see Boozman talk about standing by his vote against the federal stimulus plan.)
Also filing Monday were lieutenant governor candidates Republican Mark Darr of Rogers and former House speaker and state Sen. Shane Broadway, D-Bryant.
Republican and former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin of Little Rock filed to run for the Second District congressional seat being vacated by the retiring Vic Snyder, D-Ark.
State Rep. Robert Moore, D-Arkansas City, also filed for re-election. He said he had never seen a filing day scenario quite like Monday's.
Before facing re-election in Desha and Chicot counties, Moore will face an election Thursday among state House members to choose the next Speaker of the House. Moore is vying to replace current House Speaker Robbie Wills, D-Conway. His opposition, state Rep. Johnnie Roebuck, D-Arkadelphia, filed for re-election Monday as well.