With no divisive initiatives on the ballot Tuesday, the first primary election under California's new top-two system was not drawing much interest from voters despite some fiercely contested seats for Congress, the state Legislature and statewide offices.
Two Republicans are vying for the chance to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in November, with all statewide offices up for grabs, including intra-party fights in the races for secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction.
Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, voted in a firehouse near their Oakland hills home Tuesday accompanied by their dog. Brown, 76, said he's got a special opportunity to serve in his unprecedented bid for a fourth term as California governor.
"It's been a long journey," he told reporters after casting his ballot. "I have learned a lot, and I hope if the people give me another four years that I can deserve their confidence and trust and lead California in so many different ways."
Voter turnout has been trending downward in California primaries over the last 20 years. With 21 percent of voters now unaffiliated with any political party, turnout Tuesday is expected to be very low — perhaps matching the record low of 28.2 percent in 2008, when California split its statewide primary and presidential election contests, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., a consulting firm that tracks voter data.
Many ballots will be cast by mail at the last minute or dropped off at polling places on Election Day, meaning the outcome in several races could remain up in the air well past election night.
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