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Polls close on primary night in California

June 8, 2010 |  8:00 pm

Polls have now closed in a statewide primary election, capping the most expensive primary campaign in U.S. history. Former EBay chief executive Meg Whitman is the Election Day front-runner over Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in their quest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, while former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina heads a field of potential Republican challengers to Democratic U.S. Sen Barbara Boxer.

Voters will also pick new Democratic and Republican nominees in contested primary races for state attorney general and lieutenant governor.

Voters will also decide on five ballot measures, including Proposition 14, a proposed change to the state's primary election system that would allow people to vote for candidates in primary elections regardless of their political party.

Here's some of what to look for as the votes are counted:

Both Democrats and Republicans have crowded fields for state attorney general, largely considered the second most powerful position in state government. Democrats in the race include San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris, former Facebook privacy executive Chris Kelly and former Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo. On the Republican side, Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley faces off against former Chapman Law School Dean John Eastman and Sen. Tom Harman (R-Orange).

Both parties also have contested races for lieutenant governor. The Republican race features newly appointed incumbent Abel Maldonado, a centrist Republican, against conservative Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley). The Democratic contest features San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

Finalists for state superintendent of public instruction, the state's only nonpartisan statewide office, will also be decided tonight. Teachers unions are behind Sen. Tom Torlakson (D-Antoich), while Sen. Gloria Molina (D-Los Angeles) is supported by charter school advocates and other education reform groups. Former local superintendent Larry Aceves is among the other candidates in the field.

There are also 20 state Senate seats and 80 Assembly seats up for grabs. Many of them feature primary battles between liberal and moderate Democrats, a series of proxy wars between labor unions and business groups. PolitiCal will provide news on these races throughout the night.

-- Anthony York