LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ Claiming leadership of a state party weakened by scandal and Bill Clinton's departure for the White House, Blanche Lincoln prevailed in a runoff to win the Democratic nomination for Arkansas' open U.S. Senate seat.

``I'm delighted to see that the Democratic Party of Arkansas has chosen me to lead them into the future, and I'm going to make them proud,'' Lincoln said moments after defeating Attorney General Winston Bryant.

Also Tuesday, there were primaries in North Dakota, Virginia, Maine and South Carolina, where Republicans nominated a three-term congressman to challenge Democratic Sen. Ernest ``Fritz'' Hollings.

Although she had represented eastern Arkansas in the U.S. House for four years, the 37-year-old Lincoln is seen as a fresh face for a state party ailing since Clinton won the presidency, former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker's Whitewater conviction and resignation, and the retirements of longtime Sens. Dale Bumpers and David Pryor.

Lincoln _ who quit Congress in 1996 after having twin boys _ had 135,612 votes, or 63 percent, to Bryant's 79,599 votes, or 37 percent, according to unofficial returns.

Lincoln is looking to emulate the first woman elected to the Senate, Hattie Caraway, who in 1932 defeated a crowded field of men in Arkansas' Democratic primary, then easily beat the Republican candidate.

In November's general election to replace Bumpers, who is retiring after 24 years, Lincoln will face Republican state Sen. Fay Boozman and Reform Party candidate Charley Heffley.

Boozman, a 51-year-old religious conservative, hopes to become only the second Republican elected to the Senate from Arkansas, following Tim Hutchinson, who defeated Bryant two years ago.

``This has the potential of being the most interesting Senate race in the country,'' said Gary Nordlinger, a Democratic Party consultant in Washington. ``You've got essentially the old-school conservative Republican against the young energetic mother of twins.''

Boozman said Tuesday night that he wasn't bothered by a recent poll that showed Lincoln with a comfortable lead.

``It's a good solid victory, but the majority of the people of Arkansas haven't spoken yet,'' he said. ``Blanche has spent close to $1 million on media and I've spent zero. I think we're in an incredible position considering that.''

In other election results Tuesday:

_ In South Carolina, Rep. Bob Inglis, 38, won 75 percent of the vote to easily defeat former GOP county chairman Stephen Brown for the right to challenge Hollings, who is seeking his sixth full term. Hollings, 76, was unopposed for his party's nomination.

Gov. David Beasley, seeking his second term, easily won the Republican nomination, getting 72 percent of the vote, while newcomer Bill Able had 28 percent. The Democratic candidate is former state legislator Jim Hodges.

_ North Dakota Republicans chose state Sen. Donna Nalewaja to challenge Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan, who had no primary opposition. Nalewaja won 67 percent of the vote in cruising to the nomination over farmer Larry Solar, who had 32 percent.

_ In Maine, the two major parties selected nominees to oppose popular independent Gov. Angus King. Democrats chose lawyer Thomas Connolly with 81 percent of the vote over race track owner Joseph Ricci, who had 19 percent.

Republicans nominated James Longley Jr., a former congressman who won 63 percent of the vote. Two other candidates split the rest. Longley's father, an independent, was governor for one term in the 1970s.

_ In Virginia's lone contested congressional race, a former teacher and nurse, Demaris Miller, won the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, who is seeking his fifth term in the 8th District, in suburban Washington, D.C.. She received 55 percent of the vote, to businessman Chuck Carlton's 45 percent.

Mrs. Miller's husband, Jim Miller, was budget director for President Reagan and lost two GOP Senate primaries, including a bruising 1996 contest against Sen. John Warner.