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Election: Cal GOP chooses Whitman, Fiorina

Posted: June 8, 2010 9:30 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2010 10:25 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON (AP) -  California Republicans turned to a pair of wealthy businesswomen, first-time candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, to lead their party into the fall campaign Tuesday night.

Embattled Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas narrowly won nomination to a third term, overcoming a labor-backed challenger and defying a nationwide anti-establishment tide.

On the busiest night of the primary year, tea party activists flexed their muscle in South Carolina, pushing state Rep. Nikki Haley ahead of three rivals in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Shy of a majority, she will face Rep. Gresham Barrett in a June 22 runoff.

Another tea party-backed contender, Sharron Angle, led a crowded field for the right to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in the fall.

In the marquee race of the night, Lincoln had 52 percent of the vote in nearly complete Arkansas returns, to 48 percent for Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

The result marked a stunning defeat for organized labor, which had poured more than $5 million into an effort to dump Lincoln in retaliation for her departure from party orthodoxy on numerous issues. Seemingly headed for defeat in the race's final days, she unleashed a campaign ad that acknowledged voter anger with Washington, and she also got a boost from former President Bill Clinton, who told voters that out-of-state unions were trying to steal their votes.

Lincoln will meet GOP Rep. John Boozman in November in a race that national Republicans have targeted.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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