, WASHINGTON, Jun 8 – A fresh clutch of Republican and Democratic party nominating contests on Tuesday will offer compelling new insights into the feverish political mood ahead of US mid-term elections in November.
As President Barack Obama focuses squarely on the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Tuesday\’s primary polls will further set the table for congressional and gubernatorial elections in which his Democrats fear heavy losses.
Big news is expected in several races where establishment candidates are fighting for their political lives. Other contests feature the insurgent "Tea Party" movement, and in California two women business pioneers are grabbing headlines with their quests for high office.
In one high-profile race, Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln will find out whether she will become the latest high-profile lawmaker to fall prey to fury at incumbents as economic blight lingers.
Lincoln has called upon the formidable campaign skills of former president Bill Clinton, one of her state\’s favorite sons, in an effort to win a fiercely-contested Democratic primary run-off against rival Bill Halter.
Halter tapped into the political mood, which has already ended the careers of several prominent politicians — including Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Arlen Specter — by branding Lincoln a creature of Washington oblivious to heartland anger.
Several recent polls have put Halter ahead in his bid to win the right to challenge the Republicans for the Arkansas seat in November, when all of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate is up for grabs.
Another closely-watched race is in Nevada, when Republicans are choosing a candidate to take on Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, their number one target in November.
The apparent favorite is a former member of the desert and gambling state\’s assembly Sharron Angle, who backs the right-wing Tea Party insurgency that has rocked Republican politics.
Some analysts believe that Reid, a wily political operator and former boxer would welcome a race against Angle, as it would allow him to portray the ultra-conservative movement in a frightening light to moderate voters.
The Tea Party movement has demonstrated its power in some key nominating races in which the electorates are small and made up of only the most committed grass roots activists.
But it is unclear however whether it will be as potent in elections with a wide-ranging electorate, where moderates, independents and Democrats all play important roles.
In California, there could be a coup for hi-tech business as two powerful businesswomen seek prominent places on the Republican Party ticket.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is seeking the party nomination for what would likely be a colorful battle against Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer, who is bracing for a tough reelection fight in November.
Meg Whitman, a former eBay CEO meanwhile is tipped to win the party\’s gubernatorial nod to battle Democrats to succeed California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who cannot seek reelection as he is term limited.
South Carolina, renowned for hardball politics, is not disappointing this year, as Republicans wage a brutal bid for the party\’s gubernatorial nomination.
Frontrunner Nikki Haley has denied repeated allegations of marital affairs, which she blames opponents for spreading.
South Carolina is no stranger to controversy swirling around the Governor\’s mansion — the current resident, Republican Mark Sanford, mysteriously disappeared last year, then resurfaced and confessed to an affair with a secret lover in Argentina.
More routine party nominating fights will also unfold Tuesday in Iowa, Utah, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia.