Holding Regulatory Reform to Help Lincoln?

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For more than a week, I’ve been wondering why Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd and that committee’s top Republican Ricahrd Shelby haven’t introduced their managers’ amendment, the final piece that will allow financial regulatory reform to pass the Senate. The bill was scheduled to be finished, after all, at the end of last week. And Senate Majority Leader has seemed surprisingly sanguine about missing that deadline – no threats to go all weekend, no laments about GOP obstructionism. And then Friday, a House source who is working on the bill, explained it to me: they’re waiting for Blanche Lincoln’s primary on Tuesday.

The Dodd/Shelby agreement is widely expected to strip out Lincoln’s most controversial piece on derivatives: a provision that would bar banks from trading derivatives and would require them to divest their current holdings. Dems are afraid that if that piece gets taken out before Lincoln’s primary it’ll weaken her chances, which is why they were forced to vote down Saxby Chambliss’s amendment last week seeking to strip out that exact language (though someone might want to clue in Wall Street, the Dow keeps tanking every time traders thing this bill’s going south). Lincoln needs the populist street cred since progressive groups like Moveon.org and Fire Dog Lake, as well as the unions, are spending millions to bolster her primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (an odd investment for unions in Arkansas, a fairly un-organized state – hello, Walmart). Lincoln looks to win the primary – at least she’s leading in polls – but if she fails to win outright, I wonder if Reid will hold regulatory reform till after her run off?