Lance Armstrong prods Berman, Sherman on California tobacco tax

Cycling legend Lance Armstrong is pressing California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman to support a hike in state tobacco taxes.

California voters go to the polls next Tuesday to decide the fate of Proposition 29, which would increase California's cigarette tax by $1 per pack, with the money going largely to fund cancer research.

Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner who survived a very public battle with testicular cancer in the mid-1990s, used Twitter Tuesday in hopes of rallying Berman and Sherman behind the measure.

"I hope both @bradsherman & @RepHowardBerman can agree that #YESON29 is the right vote!" Armstrong, who lives in Texas, wrote to his more than 3.4 million Twitter followers.

Neither Berman's nor Sherman's office responded immediately Tuesday to inquiries about where they stand on the proposal.

Berman and Sherman have been allies for years, representing neighboring districts surrounding Los Angeles. But state redistricting has found the two liberal Democrats vying for the same seat in November, making the race one of the most closely watched primary contests of this election year.

The new district is carved largely from Sherman's current district, giving the former labor lawyer a bit of a grassroots advantage. But Berman, who has been on Capitol Hill much longer, is the more popular figure in the eyes of California's sitting Democrats, many of whom have formally endorsed him.

California's current cigarette tax is 87 cents per pack. Proposition 29 would raise that figure to $1.87.