The subplots abounded Tuesday night as voters in 12 states cast ballots. Antipathy toward elected officials and the establishment. The power of special interests. Tests of party purity. The tea party. The quixotic fight against hyper-partisanship. Each of these narratives came together on the busiest day of the primary season, a preview of November's midterm elections. And all were results or effects of the single most defining trait of the political landscape: A dispirited public is demanding change. Again.
California: Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, easily won the Republican nomination. The race was the most expensive primary in California history: Whitman spent more than $81 million and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner spent $25 million. Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown, governor from 1975-83, was unopposed.
South Carolina: After a nasty four-way race, Republican state Rep. Nikki Haley will face Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff election on June 22 for the GOP nomination to succeed term-limited Gov. Mark Sanford. Haley, who won the endorsement of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, denied charges of infidelity. She had 49 percent of the vote with returns counted from nearly all precincts. Barrett, who won 22 percent, is a three-term House member backed by former Vice President Dick Cheney. The GOP winner will face Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen.
Iowa: The state has a three-way Republican primary for the right to oppose Democrat Chet Culver, considered one of the nation's most vulnerable governors. Polls suggest former Gov. Terry Branstad is leading over businessman Bob Vander Plaats and state Rep. Rod Roberts.
Nevada: Gov. Jim Gibbons has been thrown out of office after a tumultuous term that was marred by a bitter divorce and allegations of infidelities. The first-term Republican lost the GOP primary Tuesday to former federal Judge Brian Sandoval. Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, won the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Maine: Senate President Elizabeth "Libby" Mitchell, a Democrat, will face Republican Paul LePage, a favorite of the conservative tea party movement
Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln fended off anti-establishment sentiment to win a runoff for the Democratic nomination, defeating union-backed Lt. Gov. Bill Halter on Tuesday. She will face Republican Rep. John Boozman in the Nov. 2 general election. Lincoln was considered among the country's most vulnerable senators. The candidates themselves raised and spent millions of dollars.
California: Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard Co. chief executive, was leading in some polls over her GOP opponents for Senate: former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell and state Assembly member Chuck DeVore, a tea party favorite. The winner will challenge Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Iowa: Des Moines lawyer Roxanne Conlin easily won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, setting up a race with five-term Republican Sen. Charles Grassley.
Nevada: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid easily overpowered a field of little-known Democratic challengers Tuesday to win the party's nomination for a fifth 6-year term. Three Republicans were in a bruising fight for the chance to face him: tea party favorite Sharron Angle, former Nevada GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden and Las Vegas businessman Danny Tarkanian.
California: The congressional race in Southern California's 36th District features contrasting Democratic candidates: Rep. Jane Harman, who belongs to the Blue Dog group of conservative Democrats, and Marcy Winograd, co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. In 2006, Harman beat Winograd with 62 percent of the vote.
Georgia: In north Georgia, Tom Graves' support from the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots helped power him to a victory over Lee Hawkins, another conservative, in a runoff to fill a vacant House seat in a heavily Republican district. Rep. Nathan Deal resigned to run for governor.