Open primary yields few surprises as voters approve term limits reform
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Term limits reform wins in landslide, but tobacco tax trails
In addition to choosing an opponent for Feinstein and making the expected selections of President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to represent their respective parties in November, state voters also weighed in on term limits and taxes on tobacco.
Proposition 29, which would impose a $1 per pack tax on cigarettes and an equivalent tax on other tobacco products, trailed in returns as of early Wednesday morning by a 51-49 margin — more than 60,000 votes. While nearly 2 million provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots remain to be counted statewide, those ballots would have to split 52-47 in favor of the measure to overturn the No side’s lead — a result which history suggests is unlikely.
The tobacco industry poured tens of millions of dollars into defeating Proposition 29, running ads which portrayed the measure as poorly written and a misuse of tax dollars. Supporters argued the tax hike would reduce smoking and provide funding for cancer research.
The other statewide measure on the ballot, Proposition 28, sailed through easily, with 61 percent of state voters approving the measure. The measure replaces the state’s existing legislative term limits — three Assembly terms and two Senate terms, for a total of 14 years — with a strict 12-year limit, but gives politicians the flexibility to spend those 12 years in the Assembly, Senate, or any possible mix of both.
Supporters of Proposition 28 argued that the current term limits were too short to allow politicians to learn how to be effective legislators and gave too much influence to the veteran lobbyists who replaced senior legislators in showing newly elected representatives the ropes. Opponents argued the measure would weaken term limits by allowing legislators to serve in one branch and take advantage of incumbency in elections for a longer period.
Turnout expected to set new low for presidential primary
With the major parties’ presidential nominations long since decided, and no other headline race at the top of the ballot, Tuesday’s election was expected to set a new record low for turnout.
A Field Poll released Tuesday predicted turnout of 35 percent or less — seven points lower than the previous low for a presidential primary in 1996. The poll also found that for the first time in a presidential primary, a majority of votes — 55 percent — would be cast by mail.
With a presidential contest which is expected to be close and at least six statewide ballot measures, including one seeking to repeal the death penalty, the general election is unlikely to feature similar turnout lows. Voters will go to the polls to choose between the winners of today’s primaries and vote on those other contests November 6.
Contact Steven Luo at email@example.com.