Tom Torlakson, the incumbent state superintendent of public instruction, grabbed a sizable lead in early returns in his race for re-election Tuesday, teetering near the 50 percent he needed to avoid the November general election.
Challenger Marshall Tuck, who won several key endorsements, trailed with about 20 percent of the vote.
In the race for secretary of state, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson held the top two spots and appeared headed for a November showdown.
The night's biggest nail-biter was for controller, with Republican Ashley Swearengin edging fellow Republican David Evans, with Democrats Betty Yee and John Perez close behind.
Other races for statewide office held no surprises: Incumbents Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones were headed to re-election battles in November.