As the Schwarzenegger era draws to a close, two major experiments that will form much of his legacy have yet to begin.
Non-partisan redistricting gets most of the attention, but the new “jungle primary” may be the more radical reform. Redistricting won't go into effect until 2012, but the new primary system will get its first test on Feb. 15.
Unfortunately, the two special elections scheduled for that date do not appear to be competitive, and so they won't offer much of a test of the new system.
Both of the Senate districts in play strongly favor one party. So you'd think this would be a good chance to see the oddity of two candidates from the same party facing off in the general election.
But in the 28th District, which tilts Democratic, the only two Democrats to pull papers so far are Ted Lieu and Merv Evans. Lieu is a veteran Assemblyman. Evans, for those who haven't run across him, is a perennial candidate who tends to drive away support the more he campaigns.
There are also three Republicans in the mix, so if by some miracle Lieu doesn't win 50% of the vote in the first round, he'll face the top Republican in the “general” and will crush that person — just like it would have been under the old system.
In the 17th, only two candidates have pulled papers, according to the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder. Former Assemblywoman Sharon Runner is the husband of the incumbent, George Runner. Carl Iannalfo builds auto replicas and is fighting just to get on the ballot.
Barring the late entry of a major candidate in either race — and the filing deadline is next Monday — it's looking like both races will end in a first-round blowout, which will tell us little if anything at all about the far-reaching effects of open primaries.