Welcome to the Jungle

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California voters embraced non-partisan primaries yesterday. Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic:

The biggest news out of California last night was not an election: it was the endorsement of a ballot initiative, Proposition 14, that might radically change the type of candidate who seeks and wins congressional and statewide officers. The "Top Two Primary Act" allows voters of any political party to pick anyone who qualifies for the ballot for a particular race regardless of party. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sees Prop 14 as a big piece of his legacy.

The practical effect will be incentivize candidates to avoid the trap of having to run one type of campaign to win base voters and another type of campaign to win the general election. It is conceivable that, with such a system in place, Senate candidate Carly Fiorina wouldn't have felt it necessary to sharply tack to the right. But the same system would have required a lot more energy and expenditure from the incumbent, Barbara Boxer.

Who funded the initiative? Chamber of Commerce types, who know that pragmatic candidates won't want to alienate business interests in the state. It was opposed by activists from both parties, who believe it to be an incumbent protection measure of first order.

This is the same type of "jungle primary" we'll have in Tucson elections in the future, so we'll see how it plays out on the local level here.

How would it change state politics? Given how polarized the GOP has become, we can't imagine it would make things any worse. But we're been wrong about that kind of thing before.

Former state lawmaker Ted Downing, who is running as an independent this year

against Paula Aboud, cheered the news in an e-mail to us today:


I believe yesterday was an historic moment in western politics, not based who won the primaries, but the passing of Proposition 14 in California. This is 1/2 the reform that we discussed.

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