Alaska Primary A Toss-Up; McCain Wins In Arizona

Associated Press

Her re-election quest suddenly in jeopardy, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski struggled to avoid becoming the latest incumbent lawmaker to be fired. She fought against a political novice with the backing of Sarah Palin and tea party activists in a stunningly tight Republican primary race.

With more than half of the precincts counted, little-known attorney Joe Miller, a decorated Gulf war veteran and self-described “constitutional conservative,” led 51 percent to 49 percent in contest that, in the end, amounted to an Alaska-sized GOP family feud.

Murkowski would be the seventh incumbent — and fourth Republican — to lose in a year in which the tea party has scored huge victories in GOP Senate primaries and voters have shown a willingness to punish Republican and Democratic candidates with ties to Washington and party leadership.

It also was an outsider’s night in Florida’s GOP primary for governor, with big-spending upstart Rick Scott toppling veteran insider Bill McCollum, the state’s attorney general who had the support of national party chiefs.

Five states — Arizona, Vermont and Oklahoma also voted — held nominating contests Tuesday, 10 weeks before the general election. The races highlighted dominant themes of this volatile election year, including anti-establishment anger and tea party challenges from the right.

Elsewhere, the establishment prevailed.

Veteran GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona easily cinched his party’s renomination — and likely re-election this fall — by dispatching an opponent with tea party support. Rep. Kendrick Meek cruised to the Democratic Senate nod in Florida against a wealthy political newcomer. And a slew of Republican and Democratic members of Congress withstood primary challenges.

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