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Tuesday’s Primary Will Be a Test of California’s ‘Top-Two’ System

Millions of Californians will cast ballots in races for governor and hundreds of other public offices Tuesday in the first full-scale test of a new primary system aimed at curbing entrenched partisanship in state politics.


Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. in Tuesday’s election (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

In contests for statewide office, Congress and the Legislature, candidates who finish first and second — regardless of party — will compete in a November runoff.

Modeled after nonpartisan local elections, the “top two” system was approved by voters four years ago. Exasperated by chronic gridlock in Sacramento and Washington, voters ignored pleas of the two major parties to keep California’s partisan primaries intact.

Many of Tuesday’s most contentious races are local. In Los Angeles, the exit of local political fixtures Henry Waxman and Zev Yaroslavsky has sparked fierce contests to succeed them in the U.S. House of Representatives and on the county Board of Supervisors, respectively.

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