California voters OK term limits change, incumbents

LOS ANGELES — In a statewide primary that tested incumbent strength after election reforms, voters largely stuck with established names Tuesday, setting up several contests in which members of the same party will face off this fall. They also shortened the tenure of state lawmakers in Sacramento and put limits on public pensions in two of California's largest cities.

A contentious ballot proposal to add a $1-a-pack tax on cigarettes to fund cancer research remained too close to call after a $65 million spending spree by opponents and supporters. Opposition to the hike held a roughly 64,000-vote lead out of more than 3.8 million cast, but many votes remained to be counted Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the 78-year-old incumbent Democrat, easily advanced to the November ballot in her quest to for a fifth term, where she will face Republican autism activist Elizabeth Emken.

Nearly two-thirds of voters approved an initiative to alter the state's 22-year-old term limits law, cutting the possible tenure of state legislators from 14 years to 12 years, but allowing them to serve all that time in one house. In San Diego and San Jose, voters overwhelmingly approved measures to cut retirement benefits for government workers in contests closely watched as states and cities throughout the country struggle with public employee pension obligations.

The primary was the first statewide use of a top-two voting system and legislative and congressional districts that were drawn for the first time by an independent citizens panel.

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