Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, who ascended to the top of the business world before turning to politics, prevailed in their respective battles for the G.O.P. nominations for the U.S. Senate and Governor in California, setting the stage for costly general election fights this fall.
Ms. Fiorina, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard , beat Tom Campbell, a former congressman, and Chuck DeVore, whose candidacy has drawn the backing of many Tea Party activists. She will face the incumbent senator, Barbara Boxer, in the fall.
Ms. Whitman, the former chief executive of eBay and a billionaire, had invested a small share of her personal fortune to prevail in the governor’s race over Steve Poizner, the state insurance commissioner, who put up $24 million of his own money into his primary campaign. She will challenge Jerry Brown, the state’s attorney general, who was first elected governor of California three decades ago.
California voters also approved a measure that would replace traditional primaries in state and Congressional elections with, effectively, two rounds of voting, which could have a profound effect on the state’s political future. All candidates would run in the first round, and the top two vote-getters - regardless of party affiliation, or unaffiliation - would then face each other in the general election. Supporters hope it would produce more moderate candidates; political parties were vehemently opposed.
And in a closely-watched race, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas survived a tough challenge , from her party’s left wing on Tuesday to capture the Democratic nomination in a runoff primary election, resisting the anti-incumbent wave that has defined the midterm election year.
Mrs. Lincoln withstood a multi-million-dollar campaign against her from organized labor, environmental groups and liberal advocacy organizations from outside Arkansas as she prevailed over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. She faces a difficult contest in the fall, but her victory challenges the suggestion that voters are poised to oust all officeholders.
“We proved that this senator’s vote is not for sale and neither is yours,” Mrs. Lincoln said. “We took on the outside groups seeking to manipulate our votes.”
It was the busiest primary day so far this year, a coast-to-coast series of contests that stretched form Maine to California helped decide which candidates will be on the general election ballot in races for governor, the House and the Senate.
Setting the stage for one of the more intriguing races this fall, Nevada Republicans chose Sharron Angle, a Tea Party candidate, to challenge Senator Harry Reid, the embattled Senate majority leader. Mr. Reid has emerged as a primary target of conservatives intent on dethroning key Democrats this year.
In South Carolina, Nikki Haley moved closer to becoming the first female governor of South Carolina as she strongly outpaced three Republican primary rivals in one of the nation’s most divisive contests.
Ms. Haley overcame accusations of infidelity and benefited from the endorsement of Sarah Palin in a contest that lived up to South Carolina’s reputation for anything-goes politics. But she fell short of claiming an outright majority, setting up a runoff against Representative J. Gresham Barrett, a four-term congressman. They were part of a four-way Republican field seeking to succeed Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, who confessed to an affair with an Argentinian woman last year and was restricted from seeking re-election by term limits.
“We had the kitchen sink thrown at us,” Ms. Haley said in an interview on Tuesday. “We are a state of great people. We are a state of dirty politics.”
In other races:
- Iowa Republicans nominated Terry Branstad, who served as the state’s governor from 1983 to 1999, to run again. He prevailed in a three-way primary and will face Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, in the fall.
- In another South Carolina race, Representative Bob Inglis, a Republican who has occasionally broken with his party on national security and social issues, was forced into a runoff against Trey Gowdy.
- In the only contest of the night that will send a new lawmaker to Congress, voters in the northwest corner of Georgia elected a former State House member, Tom Graves, to fill a House vacancy created when Representative Nathan Deal left to run for governor. It was a low-turnout election and is expected to be the last special Congressional election before November, meaning that any new vacancies will be filled on Nov. 2.
- In Virginia, Robert Hurt, a state senator, easily won a contested Republican primary to challenge Representative Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat, in November. Mr. Perriello is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents because of his votes for both the Democratic health care bill and climate change measures.
- Robbie Brown contributed reporting.