Democratic State Sen. Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson are advancing to the general election in the race for secretary of state, a normally low-key affair magnified this year by legal scandals in the Legislature.
Early returns in Tuesday's primary showed them each with about 29 percent. Trailing in third place was state Sen. Leland Yee, who stopped campaigning when he was arrested on federal corruption charges.
Yee's case highlighted his rivals' call for political reform, including campaign fundraising reforms and more disclosure.
Padilla, from Los Angeles, and Peterson, who runs a Pepperdine University think tank dedicated to public engagement in politics, are running to replace termed-out Democratic incumbent Debra Bowen as the state's chief elections and campaign finance officer.