No open primary

We’ll be voting on the “open primary” next June, as a result of the initiative reform-for-budget compromise struck last week at the state house. Proponents claim that that such a primary (in which the top two vote-getters in the primary are on the general-election ballot, regardless of party affiliation) will lead to more moderate representation. As veteran political watchers might say, “Horse pucky.”

With the “solid” blue and red districts we’ve got in California, all too often we’re going to end up with two representatives from the same party on the general ballot. For instance, if this measure had been in effect last year, Mariko Yamada and Christopher Cabaldon would have squared off for the open seat in Assembly District 8.

While they’re both great candidates and that might seem like a good idea, in fact, it’s not. First, such a primary would force candidates in districts with a solid majority in one party further to the right or left in order to keep party stalwarts and organizers firmly in their camp. Further, the interparty competition for some of these seats would result in ever-larger amounts of money being spent on both primary and general elections—as if too much money wasn’t already a problem in electoral politics.

And finally, what about representation for those who don’t fall neatly into the two-party system? Should the Libertarians, the Greens, the Peace and Freedom Party and the Socialists all just give up and go away? How very, very democratic of us.