(AP) - In a matter of hours, it'll be clear whether the anti-incumbent tide is sweeping away more veteran lawmakers. Already this year, a senator and House member from each party have been defeated in primaries.
Voters in 12 states have been at the polls for primary races today -- including one in Arkansas, where two-term Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln is trying to defeat a challenger, Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter, in a runoff. He's heavily backed by unions, while she has White House support.
Tea party activists are testing their muscle in Nevada, backing Sharron Angle in a multi-candidate race to select a challenger to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. South Carolina State Rep. Nikki Haley, running to become the first female governor in her state's history, is battling several rivals as well as allegations of infidelity. She's relying on support from tea party activists and an endorsement from Sarah Palin.
The races took place in the shadow of the worst recession in decades, stubbornly high unemployment, dispiriting day-by-day images of the damage caused by an offshore oil rig disaster, and poll after poll that reported the voters angry and eager for a change.
"I don't believe very many politicians or very many people on the political scene, so I just had to vote my conscience and my prayers," said Judy Hamilton, a 59-year-old administrative assistant from Columbia, S.C., as she cast her ballot in the state's Republican primary.
That sentiment made the day's balloting a prelude to the fall, when Republicans hope to challenge Democrats for control of Congress and the two parties vie for three dozen statehouses midway through President Barack Obama's term.
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