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Weeks after conceding defeat in the June 5 primary, supporters of an initiative to increase the tobacco tax to fund cancer research have requested a recount in parts of Los Angeles County.

Proposition 29 is losing 49.7 percent to 50.3 percent - a margin of just 29,565 votes out of more than 5 million cast statewide - according to unofficial results posted by the Secretary of State. Proponents of the measure conceded June 22, saying the gap remained too large to overcome as the final ballots were counted.

But a recount was requested in some Los Angeles County precincts Monday, the deadline for submitting such a request, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan confirmed today. He said 191 precincts were selected for a recount by supporters.

The request was filed by John Maa, according to the Secretary of State's office. A doctor and member of the American Heart Association, Western States Affiliate by that same name was featured in press releases and an advertisement aired by the Proposition 29 campaign. The filer's attorney, Bradley W. Hertz of the Sutton Law Firm, was not immediately available for comment.

The formal Proposition 29 campaign denied involvement in the recount. Spokesman Tim Douglas wrote in an email that "no one with any official connection to the campaign made such a request."

Logan said his department will begin the recount process on Monday, tallying the ballots electronically before starting a manual count midweek. He said he expects the cost of the recount, which could take more than a week, to break down to about $5,700 a day. The campaign requesting the recount must cover that amount in daily deposits, though taxpayers pick up the tab if the process changes the outcome of the election.

The precincts selected by the campaign accounted for about 48,000 of the roughly 900,000 votes cast for and against the measure throughout the county. The campaign can add more precincts or pull the plug on the process at any time, Logan said.

Proposition 29, which would increase the cigarette tax by $1 a pack to pay for cancer research and smoking cessation programs, was sponsored by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association.

The opposition campaign, fueled with tens of millions of dollars from tobacco companies, argued that the revenue could be put to better use during bad budget times and that the panel created by the measure to oversee the spending lacked accountability and would create more bureaucracy in state government.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 5:05 p.m. to include a response from the Yes on 29 campaign. This post was updated at 5:31 p.m. with the name of the filer.


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