WASHINGTON – 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. 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.
In another closely-watched race, Senator Blanche Lincoln held off a strong challenge Tuesday from a fellow Democrat to prevail in the battle for the party’s Senate nomination, giving her a chance to win a third term in November and avoid the fate of other incumbents turned out of office this year.
Ms. Lincoln prevailed in the run-off over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, despite millions of dollars spent on his behalf by organized labor and other special interests, setting up a general election race with Representative John Boozman, the Republican chosen late last month.
The Arkansas result came after a bruising Republican primary race for the South Carolina gubernatorial nomination was forced into a runoff of its own after Nikki Haley overcame accusations of marital infidelity. Ms. Haley will face U.S. Representative J. Gresham Barrett.
Ms. Haley, a state legislator, fell just short of claiming an outright majority of votes and now faces a June 22 primary with Mr. Barrett, a four-term congressman.
“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 recent weeks, she had been twice accused of infidelity by men allied with her opponents. She fiercely denied the suggestions. She rose in the polls by promising to break up an entrenched network that has dominated state politics for decades and she portrayed the unsubstantiated charges of extramarital affairs as retaliation for taking on special interests.
Nevada Republicans chose Sharron Angle, a conservative Tea Party candidate, to challenge Senator Harry Reid, the embattled Senate majority leader, setting up what will likely be one of the most closely watched general election battles this fall.
In the first notable result of the night, Robert Hurt, a Virginia 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 health care bill and climate change measures.
And in the only contest of the night that sent a new lawmaker to Congress, voters in the northwest corner of Georgia elected a former state House member, Tom Graves, a Republican, 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 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.