On the biggest primary day of 2010, women emerged victorious in several high-profile races across the country, from California to South Carolina, setting the stage for a November general election that will focus mainly on voters' growing discontent with politics as usual.
Nevada Republicans picked Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle to try to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In California, voters chose two former executives and multimillionaires, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, as GOP candidates for governor and senate.
Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln survived a party runoff to face what is expected to be a fierce Republican challenge to her seat this fall. And, in South Carolina, GOP state Rep. Nikki Haley weathered allegations of marital affairs and an ethnic slur to emerge as her party's leading candidate for governor.
"We were, 'Nikki who?' six weeks ago, then all the sudden had a double-digit lead, and then everything but the kitchen sink thrown at us," Haley said on "Good Morning America" today. "What was proven last night with 49 percent of the vote and 42 of 46 counties is that this is about jobs, the economy, and that elected officials know the value of the dollar."
Haley, who was endorsed by Tea Party groups and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, nabbed a majority of votes but fell just shy of the majority needed to avoid a runoff, according to the Associated Press. She faces a runoff election with her closest competitor, state Rep. Gresham Barrett, in two weeks.
Still, Haley's performance, and that of other relative newcomer candidates to national politics Tuesday, reflects a trend of successful challenges to establishment politics.
In one of the most heavily contested races in Nevada, Tea Party favorite Angle surpassed more than a dozen GOP candidates for the chance to take on the Senate seat that Reid has occupied for more than two decades, and possibly render him the second Democratic party leader to be ousted by the Republicans in six years, after Tom Daschle in 2004.
Angle, an anti-tax crusader who favors abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy, phasing out Social Security and Medicare, and removing the United States from the United Nations, had been neck-and-neck in polls with former state GOP chair Sue Lowden, who was favored by the state's Republican establishment.
Reid's campaign views Angle's non-mainstream platform as one it can easily target in the November midterm election.
Also in Nevada Tuesday, voters denied Gov. Jim Gibbons a chance to run for reelection, making him the first sitting governor to lose a primary reelection bid.
Lincoln narrowly avoided becoming the latest casualty in the tidal wave of anti-incumbent sentiment sweeping the country, defeating Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a hotly contested runoff.
Lincoln had slightly more than 50 percent of the votes, with Halter trailing closely behind, according to the Associated Press.
Lincoln's win is a major blow to labor unions and liberal groups, who poured millions of dollars into Halter's campaign, and a victory for President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned for her in the final days of the race.
"The vote of this senator is not for sale and neither is the vote of the people of Arkansas," Lincoln said in her victory speech, rebuking national labor groups.