A trio of Republican Senate primaries over the next six weeks will test whether the anti-incumbency fever that swept Dick Lugar from office was an Indiana anamoly or the opening round of another knockout year for tea party insurgents.

The races in three rock-ribbed red states — Nebraska, Texas and Utah — pit, with some shades of gray, establishment-backed candidates against contenders aligned with the conservative uprising that seized control of the 2010 cycle.

The first test comes Tuesday in the Cornhusker State, as Republicans choose their nominee to take on former Sen. Bob Kerrey in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

Attorney General Jon Bruning is attempting to stave off a late surge by State Sen. Deb Fischer, an underfunded, low key rural lawmaker who caught a burst of momentum last week after snagging endorsements from tea party favorites Sarah Palin and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.

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