WASHINGTON -- Embattled Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas narrowly won nomination to a third term Tuesday night, overcoming a labor-backed challenger and defying a nationwide anti-establishment tide that dealt defeat to Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons.
In Arkansas, Lincoln had 52 percent of the vote in nearly complete returns, to 48 percent for Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
The result marked a stunning defeat for organized labor, which had poured more than $5 million into an effort to dump Lincoln in retaliation for her departure from party orthodoxy on numerous issues. Seemingly headed for defeat in the race's final days, she unleashed a campaign ad that acknowledged voter anger with Washington, and she got a boost from former President Bill Clinton in the state he ruled as governor for nearly a decade.
Lincoln will meet GOP Rep. John Boozman in November in a race that national Republicans have targeted.
Gibbons wasn't nearly as successful as Lincoln, falling to Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge, after a term marked by a messy public divorce and allegations of infidelity. Lt. Gov. Rory Reid won the Democratic nomination.
Gibbons joined a list of incumbents sent packing in earlier contests -- Sens. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., and Parker Griffith, R-Ala.
In South Carolina, U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis faces a runoff with Trey Gowdy for the GOP nomination in District 4.
With polls showing a sullen electorate, there was no shortage of subplots as voters in nearly a dozen states chose candidates for Congress and governors' offices. Californians decided whether to lead the fall GOP ticket with a pair of wealthy businesswomen campaigning on promises to cut spending. Tea party activists tested their muscle in Nevada, backing Sharron Angle in a race to select a Republican opponent against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a state where unemployment was 13.7 percent in April.
In a pair of Virginia congressional districts likely to become fall battlegrounds, Republicans chose Scott Rigell and Robert Hurt to challenge Democratic freshmen Reps. Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello.
And in Georgia, Republican Tom Graves, running with tea party support, won a special election to fill out the final few months left in the term of former GOP Rep. Nathan Deal, who resigned to run for governor.