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Political Notebook

Primaries tomorrow to test depths of discontent

US Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas will battle in a Democratic primary that is viewed as a toss-up. US Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas will battle in a Democratic primary that is viewed as a toss-up. (Danny Johnston/ Associated Press)
June 7, 2010

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WASHINGTON — A raft of primaries from coast to coast tomorrow will help clarify just how deep voters’ anger against Washington and incumbents runs.

Some of the most significant are the US Senate races in Arkansas, California, and Nevada; governor’s races in California and South Carolina; and US House races in California, Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina.

In Arkansas, Senator Blanche Lincoln is hoping to avoid becoming the third sitting senator to lose an intraparty fight this year, but even her closest allies acknowledge that her Democratic runoff race against Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter is a toss-up.

Three weeks ago, Lincoln took 44.5 percent to Halter’s 42.5 percent in the Democratic primary. A third candidate in that race, conservative D.C. Morrison, won 13 percent, forcing Lincoln and Halter into tomorrow’s runoff.

The race has pitted Lincoln and her supporters within the Democratic establishment — including President Obama and former president Bill Clinton — against organized labor, which has dumped millions of dollars into ads and voter identification programs on Halter’s behalf.

In California, Carly Fiorina, onetime Hewlett-Packard chief executive, appears to have pulled away from former representative Tom Campbell in the final weeks of the race for the Republican Senate nomination, relying on personal wealth to fund ads and on an endorsement from Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor.

The winner will face Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, in the general election.

In Nevada, the Republican race for the right to challenge Harry Reid, a Democrat and the Senate majority leader, in the fall could go in a number of directions tomorrow.

Former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle enters primary day as the slight front-runner due in part to significant expenditures from the Club for Growth, among other conservative third-party groups, on her behalf.

But Sue Lowden, the former state party chairman who hamstrung her once-front-running campaign by suggesting a barter system for health care, remains in the game because of her considerable personal spending. And then there is businessman Danny Tarkanian, who has hung around as Angle has risen and Lowden has fallen. He is the son of Jerry Tarkanian, the former UNLV men’s basketball coach.

In the race for governor of California, former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman’s first foray into electoral politics has been a roller-coaster ride.

Whitman began her run for the Republican nomination as an unknown but changed that by spending tens of millions of dollars on her campaign. Then came a series of attack ads from state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner that painted Whitman as liberal on immigration. Whitman’s numbers plummeted but have begun to recover, and most analysts expect her to win.

In South Carolina, the GOP race to replace scandal-tainted Governor Mark Sanford, a Republican, has turned into a sideshow, with state Representative Nikki Haley surging in polls even as several men have alleged having affairs with her. She has denied any infidelity.

Haley is widely expected to advance to a June 22 runoff, because no candidate is expected to win 50 percent. Representative Gresham Barrett, Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer, and Attorney General Henry McMaster are also seeking the GOP nod. -- WASHINGTON POST

In response to spill, Kerry, Lieberman seek CO2 fees
WASHINGTON — The nation should respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill by approving legislation that makes companies pay for the carbon dioxide produced by burning oil, coal, and natural gas, Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.’’

Kerry and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, unveiled legislation last month that seeks to cut carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases, linked by scientists to climate change, 17 percent from their 2005 level by 2020.

Under the bill, power plants and factories would be regulated by a cap-and-trade program in which companies buy and sell a declining number of carbon dioxide allowances. Oil refiners would pay fixed fees to the government for the carbon dioxide produced by cars and trucks. -- BLOOMBERG NEWS