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Women named Fiorina, Whitman, Lincoln, Haley, Angle score big in U.S. primary elections

June 9, 2010 |  2:12 am

Arkansas Democrat incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln 6-8-10

Think Blanche Lincoln is happy here?

It was indeed a big election night for women in American politics, especially Republicans.

Even the embattled Lincoln, the incumbent Democratic senator from Arkansas, eked out a primary runoff win over her male opponent, state Atty. Gen. Bill Halter, who was predicting victory as late as Tuesday afternoon.

With the backing of President Obama and, more important, former President and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Lincoln overcame some $10 million in spending poured into the ...

... state by labor unions opposing her more moderate positions, suggesting the predicted political intraparty civil war this midterm year may have spread to Democrats.

Lincoln now faces Republican Rep. John Boozman in the Nov. 2 general election, where she will have to defend her support of Obama's unpopular healthcare legislation.

California Republican governor candidate Meg Whitman and Republican Senate candidate Carly FiorinajaylclendenindonbartlettiLAT

California, the nation's most populous state, which already has two female U.S. senators, will still have two come November no matter what happens.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a career member of Congress who has yet to break the 50% approval level this year, usually a sign of reelection vulnerability, will face Republican Carly Fiorina. (on left, not waving).

After five House terms, Boxer now seeks a fourth six-year Senate term.

Despite being 70 years old, Boxer's still California's junior senator to fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

The former head of Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina took 56% of the vote to beat out former GOP Rep. Tom Campbell (22%) and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (19%) after trailing Campbell in early spring.

Speaking of Republican businesswomen, former EBay CEO Meg Whitman (above, waving) easily won (64%) the Republican Party's nomination for governor over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (27%). She'Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angles spent many millions of her personal fortune and will need to invest many more against Jerry Brown, a Democrat who at 72 is even older than Boxer.

Yes, that's the same Jerry Brown who used to be governor back from 1975-83 and has been elected to, or unsuccessfully sought, pretty much every conceivable political office anywhere over many years.

With no substantive Democratic opposition, Brown, the state's current attorney general, has skated through the first few campaign months without many specifics on his plan to address California's financial abyss.

Whitman will attack him as a standard pol and offer herself as a no-nonsense business executive who wants to clean up Sacramento, even after fellow Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wanted to clean up Sacramento after Democratic former Gov. Gray Davis was recalled.

Cleaning up seems to be a developing theme in this year of the anti-incumbent.

Next door in Nevada, two more women struggled for a Republican Senate nomination. Former Republican state party chair and establishment favorite Sue Lowden was dumped in the primary by Sharron Angle, a surging conservative "tea party" advocate.

She'll confront the wily old Democratic incumbent Sen. Harry Reid, who's trying to avoid becoming the second straight Democratic Senate leader to be dumped, following Tom Daschle's ouster in 2004. Said Angle: "We want to say to Harry Reid, 'You have failed and you are fired.' "

Experts say the well-financed Reid, who's previously clung to office by only a few hundred votes to remain the nation's highest-ranking Mormon, actually prefers to compete against Angle.

He'll try to portray her as a conservative extremist. Like Boxer, Reid's poll numbers this year have been awful, and they show Nevadans strongly dislike the Obama healthcare legislation that Reid engineered.

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley

Speaking of Democrats named Reid, Harry's son Rory will face former federal judge Brian Sandoval for the governor's office.

Sandoval easily ousted incumbent GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons, a former airline pilot who's been plagued with scandals and fights during his first term.

In South Carolina, state legislator Nikki Haley (left), another former businesswoman (hmmm, another theme?), won the Republican gubernatorial primary with "tea party" support to succeed the Appalachian Trail's most famous smitten non-hiker, incumbent Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.

Haley, like another Southern Republican governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, is the offspring of immigrant parents from India and was endorsed by Sarah Palin (not pictured), who campaigned strongly for Haley and recorded a robocall on her behalf. Palin also endorsed Fiorina, touting her strong NRA and pro-life record, despite criticism from Tea party activists, who favored DeVore.

However, Haley came up just 1% shy of the necessary 50% party vote. So on June 22 she will confront Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff. He captured less than half her vote Tuesday. The Democrats have Vince Sheheen as their gubernatorial nominee.

Speaking of South Carolina Democrats, they elected a virtual unknown to face incumbent Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in November. He's Alvin Greene, a 32-year-old unemployed veteran with no money and no campaign. No one has reported seeing him in weeks, apparently a smart way for some to campaign in this volatile election year.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press (Lincoln); Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times (Whitman, left) and Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times (Fiorina, right); Angle campaign; Haley campaign.