Jungle Primary = Bad News for AZ Dems?

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The Arizona Republic's Rob Robb questions whether the type of jungle primary approved by California voters would be a good idea for Arizona Democrats:

Assuming parties continue to matter, the top-two primary system would tilt the playing field strongly toward Republicans in Arizona. That's because the voter turnout advantage for Republicans is even greater in primaries than in general elections.

In Maricopa County in 2006, the last year there were primaries for statewide offices such as governor, Republicans were just 43 percent of registered voters, but were 58 percent of primary voters.

Under the top-two system, there is a real chance that Democrats will find themselves without a general election candidate for some statewide offices. In 2002, if Dick Mahoney had run in the primary rather than skipping to the general as an independent, there's a good chance the general election for governor would have been between Republicans Matt Salmon and Betsy Bayless. Eventual winner Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, might not have made it out of the primary.

In this year's attorney general race, the Democrats have three qualified candidates while the Republicans feature a donnybrook between Andy Thomas and Tom Horne. Under the top-two system, if Thomas and Horne were to spilt evenly the Republican vote and the Democrats evenly split the smaller Democratic vote, the Republicans might very well simply roll their catfight into the general.

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