Opponents of Proposition 14, the ballot measure that allows anyone to vote, regardless of party affiliation, in a statewide or congressional primary election, are making a last stand, calling the initiative "dangerous."
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, both moderate Republicans, support the proposition, which voters will decide upon today.
In this morning's press release, Christina Tobin, chair of StopTopTwo.Org, an anti-Prop. 14 group, writes:
"Proposition 14, also known as the Top Two Primaries Act, is a dangerous 'electoral reform' measure ... The measure eliminates party primaries, enables candidates to mask their party affiliation from voters, and only the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, limiting voter choice. Under Prop 14, voters could be forced to choose between two republicans or two democrats in the general election or not vote at all. Smaller parties and independents would not stand a chance."
Tobin is running for California Secretary of State as the Libertarian candidate.
Tobin also complains that Proposition 14 "operates to favor big money, celebrity or major party insiders; discriminates against minor party and independent candidates and will prevent them from advancing to the general election; makes campaigns much more costly; and bans the counting of write-in candidates from the November ballot."
Her criticisms have some truth to them.
While political observers say it is not certain that "celebrity or major party insiders" will have an advantage under Prop. 14, and they have hard time seeing how the open primary "discriminates" against third party candidates, the primary contest will most probably be costly.
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With only the top two candidates advancing to the general election, the Democratic and Republican state parties will almost certainly spend a bundle to ensure that their candidates make it through the primary.
It's also true that write-in candidates, which in the past have ranged from Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman to someone's mother, won't be counted.
Regardless, California, according to various polls, seems to be headed for a new kind of electoral system, with voters of every ideological stripe supporting the ballot measure.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.