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Wednesday: Slew of November Races Set; Adm. Allen Criticizes BP Response

Pundits and voters alike are poring over the results of party primaries and runoffs in 12 states Tuesday, the busiest day yet in this year’s congressional and gubernatorial elections.

Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas narrowly overcame challenger Lt. Governor Bill Halter with 52 percent of the vote for the right to run for a third term. She will face Republican Rep. John Boozman in November.

California Republicans picked two businesswomen: Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, will take on three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in November, while Republican Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, will run for governor this fall against state attorney general and former governor Jerry Brown.

In Nevada, tea party favorite Sharron Angle won the right to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November. Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons lost the Republican gubernatorial nomination to former federal judge Brian Sandoval, who will face Rory Reid, the son of Sen. Reid, in November.

In South Carolina, tea party activists lifted state Rep. Nikki Haley over three rivals in the Republican gubernatorial race, but there will be a runoff on June 22 because Haley failed to reach a majority for an outright win. The winner of the runoff, between Haley and Rep. J. Gresham Barrett, will face state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in a November race to succeed Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.

South Carolina GOP Rep. Bob Inglis is headed to a runoff with prosecutor and fellow Republican Trey Gowdy, while Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., will face Rob Miller, a Democrat and former Marine captain, in November.

Other results that set up November races: Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley will face Roxanne Conlin. Robert Hurt, a Virginia state senator, will challenge Rep. Tom Perriello. In Georgia, Republican Tom Graves will replace Rep. Nathan Deal, who resigned to run for governor.

“The political center — and the conventional politicians that gravitate there — showed some enduring power” on Tuesday, writes Politico’s Charles Mahtesian, adding:

“Yes, the barbarians are at the gate. They do indeed have pitchforks. But the forces of rebellion they represent are looking less potent on Wednesday morning than 24 hours before.”

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post writes that Lincoln’s victory proved that conventional wisdom is often wrong, explaining:

“Lincoln also had a (not so secret) weapon on her side in former President — and, more importantly, former Arkansas Governor — Bill Clinton. Clinton appeared in Little Rock in late May and appeared in television ads for her in the final week of the runoff. Even the Halter forces acknowledged that Clinton was, without question, the most popular political figure in the state. Lincoln’s margins — particularly in Pulaski — seem to be a direct result of Clinton’s support.”

The New York Times’ Carl Hulse counters that while voter rage might have bypassed Arkansas, it didn’t necessarily in other states:

“[W]hile Mrs. Lincoln survived to fight on in the general election, incumbents in both parties could not take much solace from the outcome in Arkansas. In South Carolina, Representative Bob Inglis, a veteran Republican, was forced into a runoff election after finishing a distant second in the battle to hold on to his seat. And Gov. Jim Gibbons, Republican of Nevada, lost his primary.”

For California, the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Rothfeld sums up November’s race:

“[T]he result may depend on who is perceived as most able to restore the lifestyle and promise that made California great: whether Brown is seen as a progressive visionary or a status quo politician kowtowing to tax-consuming liberal interests, and whether Whitman is seen as a no-nonsense manager who can impose discipline on a government out of control or a lackey of business at the expense of the average citizen.”

We’ll have more on Tuesday’s results here later and on Wednesday’s broadcast.

AP: BP’s Plan for Gulf Was Riddled with Errors

Developments in the Gulf oil leak on Wednesday include:

BP’s 582-page regional spill plan for the Gulf of Mexico, and its 52-page, site-specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig are riddled with omissions and glaring errors, according to an Associated Press analysis “that details how BP officials have pretty much been making it up as they go along.”

“Under the heading ‘sensitive biological resources,’ the plan lists marine mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals. None lives anywhere near the Gulf. The names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M University marine life specialists are wrong. So are the numbers for marine mammal stranding network offices in Louisiana and Florida, which are no longer in service.”

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While BP is capturing more oil from its blown-out well with every passing day, scientists on a team analyzing the flow said Tuesday that the amount of crude still escaping into the Gulf may be considerably greater than what the government and the company have claimed, reports the AP.

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Equipment collecting the oil from the leaking well and bringing it to the surface is believed to be nearing its daily processing capacity, reports the AP. A floating burn rig could be the solution to process most of the flow, BP said.

BP is preparing to use a device called an EverGreen Burner to burn the oil, officials said. It turns a flow of oil and gas into a vapor that is pushed out its 12 nozzles and burned without creating visible smoke.

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Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the U.S. government’s point man on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, criticized BP in a letter released Wednesday, saying the company was taking too long to process compensation claims filed by people whose livelihoods have been affected by the disaster.

In the letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward, Allen said the government needed “more detail and openness from BP” to ensure it was meeting its commitment to restore the Gulf Coast.

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President Barack Obama will make another visit to the Gulf Coast next week, the White House announced Tuesday. On Monday and Tuesday the president will visit Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. It will be his fourth trip to the region since the spill erupted in late April.

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A day after government scientists confirmed the existence of undersea plumes of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said the low concentration of oil found amounted to “good news.”

“We’re putting lots and lots of effort out there to see where the oil is, but I can say right now — and I’m really pleased about that — it’s good news in that we haven’t found any large concentrations of oil below the surface,” Suttles told “Good Morning America” on Wednesday.

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A day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to bolster safety requirements for shallow-water oil drilling, he will testify Wednesday at a Senate hearing on offshore oil exploration safety. BP’s Hayward is scheduled to appear before Congress next week.

U.N. to Impose Sanctions on Iran

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled on Wednesday to impose new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The main sanctions seek to impede the nuclear industry, impose an embargo on heavy weapons sales and push for ship inspections, reports the New York Times, adding:

“Skeptics noted that this would be the fourth round of sanctions the Security Council has imposed on Iran since 2006, and that none have succeeded in pushing Iran back into negotiations over accusations that it is defying the International Atomic Energy Agency and trying to develop a nuclear bomb. … Despite the sanctions already in place, Iran is enriching uranium at ever-higher levels and building new centrifuges to create larger stockpiles.”

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