Anti-incumbent mood as U.S. voters pick candidates

* Can Blanche Lincoln survive?

* Republican women lead in California

* Voters choose candidates in 11 states

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, June 8 (BestGrowthStock) – An anti-incumbent mood in
the United States threatens to claim another victim on Tuesday
as voters in 11 states pick Democratic and Republican
candidates to face off in November congressional elections.

Senator Blanche Lincoln, a moderate Democrat, is fighting
for her political life in her Arkansas race for a third term.

The primary votes will also determine whether California
Republicans will back two female former corporate CEOs for high
office.

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat,
will find out if he will face a “Tea Party” Republican
conservative in his uphill battle for re-election.

The headline vote will take place in Arkansas, where
Lincoln, author of a key segment of the financial regulation
bill being debated in Congress this week, is in a run-off
election required after she won a May 18 primary vote but
failed to win the necessary majority.

Polls suggested Lincoln is at risk of losing to the state’s
lieutenant governor, Bill Halter, in the race for the
Democratic nomination to face Republican Representative John
Boozman in the Nov. 2 elections.

A victory by Halter, who has been backed by unions and
liberal groups, would be a stinging defeat of the Democratic
establishment, including President Barack Obama and former
President Bill Clinton, who is from Arkansas and helped Lincoln
get elected in 1998 and campaigned for her last week.

Lincoln has faced anger from the left for her opposition to
parts of U.S. healthcare legislation — she eventually voted
for it — and from conservative Democrats critical of her
support for bank bailouts.

“People felt that she had grown a little bit detached,”
said Jennifer Duffy, a political analyst at the nonpartisan
Cook Political Report.

A defeat of Lincoln would extend Obama’s losing streak. In
past months he has backed Democratic candidates in races in
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts and all
have lost.

Lincoln could become the fifth incumbent to lose thus far
in the election cycle. Many incumbents are facing difficulties
as they face recession-weary voters fed up with the economic
record of both parties in Washington in recent years.

“Fundamentally, it’s the economy,” said University of
Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato. “That’s at
the heart of most of the unrest.”

Or, as Republican strategist Tucker Eskew put it: “If you
look like a politician and you talk like a politician and you
wear experience as your armor, you are vulnerable in 2010.”

MONEY TALKS IN CALIFORNIA

In California, Republicans were deciding on their
challenger to face incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer,
who for the first time is facing an uncertain re-election bid.

Millionaire Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of
computer maker Hewlett-Packard Co., has built a double-digit
lead in the polls over moderate Tom Campbell and conservative
Chuck DeVore.

In the Republican race to replace Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger, billionaire and former eBay Inc CEO Meg Whitman
leads state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner.

The winner will oppose presumptive Democratic nominee Jerry
Brown, a former governor and long-time figure in state
politics, in November.

California’s race for governor is on track to be the most
expensive campaign in U.S. history outside a presidential
contest, with the two Republican candidates alone spending more
than $100 million in the primary.

The Republicans in both races are battling over who is a
true conservative candidate, a key issue in California where
unemployment is at a modern record 12.6 percent and the state
government has a $20 billion budget gap.

Nevada’s Harry Reid, struggling to avoid being ensnared in
the anti-incumbent fervor, would likely see a way to stave off
defeat if Nevada Republicans choose Tea Party favorite Sharron
Angle.

Angle is in a dead heat with establishment candidate Sue
Lowden, a former head of the Nevada Republican Party.

South Carolina, which endured Mark Sanford, the Republican
governor whose divorce was prompted by affair with an Argentine
mistress, is now the focus of new sexual accusations in the
race to replace Sanford on Tuesday.

Republican state representative Nikki Haley, backed by
conservative darling Sarah Palin, has faced allegations from
two Republican operatives that she had engaged in adultery with
both of them, charges she denies.

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(Additional reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Sandra
Maler)

Anti-incumbent mood as U.S. voters pick candidates