In Tonight’s Top Races, Women in the Lead
Of the 532 sitting members of Congress, just 76 are female. But tonight, the hottest elections on tap feature female candidates regarded as major game changers in their states. In addition to a decisive Senate primary runoff in Arkansas, primary voters go to the polls tonight in a total of 10 states: California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota and Virginia.
Here’s a sample of the candidates and races that will make tonight’s headlines:
- Arkansas: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) learns her fate tonight after being pushed into a runoff with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter (D), who has strong backing from labor groups. Lincoln faces a tough general election regardless, and has been tacking toward the center as Halter hits her from the left. Following the May primary, I noted that the fact Lincoln was forced into a runoff spelled potential trouble for the incumbent, but it wasn’t until the latest Research 2000 survey* that we saw Halter pull ahead in a major poll taken since the May election. Still, Lincoln has led in most polls, and a close race is expected.
- **Nevada: **It’s been a woman vs. woman showdown in Nevada’s GOP Senate primary, where Sharron Angle and Sue Lowden are competing to take on Sen. Harry Reid (D) this fall. Lowden, a former state senator and state party chair, received strong backing from the GOP party establishment, but some major missteps have all but sunk Lowden’s campaign. In fact, the most recent polls show Lowden slipping so low that attorney Danny Tarkanian is now in the running for second place in tonight’s GOP contest. And in the governor’s race, incumbent Jim Gibbons (R) is expected to be defeated by former U.S. District Court Judge Brian Sandoval in tonight’s primary.
- South Carolina: The field to replace scandal-plagued Gov. Mark Sanford (R) includes prominent female candidate Nikki Haley, a former state representative. Haley’s star was on the rise as the Tea Party movement rallied to her campaign and she received a headline-grabbing endorsement from Sarah Palin. Since then, an alleged affair with a conservative blogger has clouded coverage of her campaign, but polls show it hasn’t threatened her chance at winning tonight’s nomination.
- **California: **Two businesswomen are expected to take home statewide GOP nominations tonight: former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina in the Senate race and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the governor’s race.
- **Iowa: **Republican Terry Branstad is expected to win his party’s nomination, setting up a very difficult re-election race for Gov. Chet Culver (D).
**Update 6/29/10: The validity of Research 2000 polls has recently come into question. *