California holds 'top-two' primary

June 6, 2012 at 8:58 AM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, June 6 (UPI) -- California Tuesday conducted a new, non-partisan, primary system, with the top two finishers in congressional and state races heading for a runoff in November.

The system resulted from a statewide referendum backed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, a Democrat, easily beat the Senate primary field with 49.3 percent of the vote. Her nearest contender, Republican Elizabeth Emken, received 12.5 percent of the vote.

President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney were easy winners Tuesday in the state's presidential primary.

The semi-official results available Wednesday morning on the California Secretary of State's Web site showed Proposition 29, which would raise the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $1.86, being narrowly defeated 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent. The measure was supported by the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, among others, and was opposed by the tobacco industry.

Voters approved Proposition 28, a ballot initiative to shorten legislative term limits from 14 years to 12 years, while allowing elected officials to serve as long as 12 years in the Assembly or the state Senate. Currently, Assembly members are limited to six years and state Senate members are limited to eight. The vote was 61.4 percent in favor and 38.6 percent opposed.

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