SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) _ Two Republican state legislators faced the widow of Democratic Rep. Walter Capps in a special congressional election on Tuesday.

The GOP held the seat for decades until Capps was elected 14 months ago. He died of a heart attack in October at age 63, and his wife, Lois Capps, the only Democrat on the ballot, says she's the best person to carry on his legacy.

The campaign in the state's 22nd Congressional District was marked by television attack ads paid for by outside interest groups focusing on abortion and political term limits.

By Tuesday, some voters had had enough.

``Most people were discouraged by most of those ads,'' said Glenn Corbin, a Republican who voted at a Santa Barbara polling place. ``What troubles me is you don't know who paid for them. You have to read the fine print, but then it still doesn't mean anything. And you don't know if what they're saying is true or not.''

Mrs. Capps, 60, faced Republican state assemblymen Brooks Firestone, a moderate, and Tom Bordonaro, a conservative.

Firestone, 61, is an heir to the tire company fortune and founded the Firestone Winery. Bordonaro, 38, is a rancher who lost the use of his legs and most of the use of his arms in a car accident.

Three lesser-knowns rounded out the ballot in the district that covers much of coastal Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The terms ends Jan. 3, 1999.

A candidate can win the seat outright by getting a majority of the vote. If no one gets more than 50 percent, the top Democrat, Republican and Libertarian will advance to a runoff on March 10.

The winner automatically becomes the favorite in the race for a full two-year term in November, when all seats in the House are up for grabs.