12 states hold primary elections

A crucial set of elections is taking place from California to Maine, with much attention on a Senate runoff in Arkansas.
By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sen. Blanche Lincoln survived a bitter Democratic runoff Tuesday in Arkansas, fending off a strong challenge from labor-backed Lt. Gov. Bill Halter to avoid becoming the third senator this year to lose a bid for reelection.

In a year of voter anger that has put incumbents in both parties on the defensive, Lincoln battled back against organized labor and progressive groups that had targeted her for defeat, salvaging her nomination for a third term.

Unions vowed to make an example of the centrist after she did not support the "public option" during the health-care debate. She also opposed a union-backed bill designed to make it easier for workers to organize -- one of labor's top priorities.

(See photos from the biggest primary day of 2010)

Unions pitched in nearly $10 million to try to defeat her. But with the help of former president Bill Clinton, Lincoln challenged them and sought to assure voters that she understands their anger at Washington. With nearly all the vote counted, Lincoln had 52 percent to Halter's 48 percent.

Lincoln will now face an equally difficult general election campaign against Rep. John Boozman, who won the May 18 Republican primary.

On the busiest election day so far this year, 12 states -- including Virginia -- held primaries on Tuesday, with major contests in Arkansas, California, Nevada and South Carolina.

The voting provided additional clues to the mood of the electorate, the strength of the "tea party" movement and the prospects for Republican gains in November.

In California, former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman easily defeated state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner after spending nearly $80 million, much of it her own money, to become the Republican nominee for governor. She will face state Attorney General Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr., who served two terms as governor three decades ago, in what is expected to be one of the costliest and most competitive contests this fall.

California Republicans also nominated former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), whose lackluster poll ratings have made her appear vulnerable in November. Fiorina defeated former congressman Tom Campbell and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

In Nevada, where Republicans were picking a challenger to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D), former state assemblywoman and tea party favorite Sharron Angle defeated former assemblywoman Sue Lowden. Reid is the Republicans' top target in Senate races this year.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R), whose tenure has been marred by personal scandal and a nasty divorce and who became an outcast in his party, lost to former U.S. district judge Brian Sandoval. He is the first governor in the state's history to be denied renomination and the first sitting governor to lose in a primary since Sarah Palin defeated Frank Murkowski in Alaska in 2006. Democrats nominated Rory Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission and the son of Harry Reid, to challenge Sandoval.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company