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What the top two hath wrought upon California

By Josh Richman
Thursday, June 5th, 2014 at 11:09 am in Assembly, California State Senate, Election reform, Elections, U.S. House.

My story today includes experts’ opinions on the effects that California’s top-two primary system had on Tuesday’s results; over at FlashReport.org, former state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro makes an impassioned case against the system.

In furtherance of the debate, here’s a list of all House, state Senate and Assembly races I found in which candidates of the same party are advancing to November’s general election, leaving voters without an alternate party choice; I did not list races in which the incumbent stands unopposed.

SAME-PARTY HOUSE RACES: 5 Democratic*, 2 Republican

CA4 – Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, vs. Art Moore (R)
(A nonpartisan candidate was eliminated; there were no Democrats.)

CA17 – Rep. Mike. Honda, D-San Jose, vs. Ro Khanna (D)
(Two Republican candidates were eliminated.)

CA19 – Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, vs. Robert Murray (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates; Murray ran as a Republican in 2012.)

CA25 – Tony Strickland (R) vs. Steve Knight (R)
(Two Democrats, two Republicans, a Libertarian and a nonpartisan were eliminated.)

CA34 – Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, vs. Adrienne Edwards (D)
(A Peace & Freedom Party candidate was eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

CA35 – Norma Torres (D) vs. Christina Gagnier (D)
(Two other Democratic candidates were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

CA40 – Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Commerce, vs. David Sanchez (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

* It’s still too close to call whether state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, or Alameda County GOP vice chairman Hugh Bussell of Livermore will advance to face Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in the 15th District.

SAME-PARTY STATE SENATE RACES: 5 Democratic, 1 Republican

SD6 – Roger Dickinson (D) vs. Richard Pan (D)
(Two Republican candidates were eliminated.)

SD24 – State Sen. Kevin DeLeon, D-Los Angeles, vs. Peter Choi (D)
(One Republican candidate was eliminated.)

SD26 – Ben Allen (D) vs. Sandra Fluke (D)
(Five other Democrats and one nonpartisan were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

SD28 – Jeff Stone (R) vs. ?????
(Too close to call, but those now in second and third place are both Republicans; another Republican and two Democrats were eliminated.)

SD30 – State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, vs. Isidro Armenta (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

SD40 – State Sen. Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, vs. Rafael Estrada (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

SAME-PARTY ASSEMBLY RACES: 8 Democratic, 3 Republican

AD7 – Kevin McCarty (D) vs. Steve Cohn (D)
(One Democrat and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD9 – Jim Cooper (D) vs. Darrell Fong (D)
(One Democrat and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD15 – Elizabeth Echols (D) vs. Tony Thurmond (D)
(Three Democrats, one Republican, one Peace & Freedom and one nonpartisan were eliminated.)

AD17 – Chris Campos (D) vs. David Chiu (D)
(One Republican was eliminated.)

AD26 – Rudy Mendoza (R) vs. Devon Mathis (R)
(Three Democrats and two Republicans were eliminated.)

AD39 – Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Arleta, vs. Patty Lopez (D)
(One Democrat was eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

AD47 – Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, vs. Gil Navarro (D)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

AD53 – Miguel Santiago (D) vs. Sandra Mendoza (D)
(Two Democrats were eliminated; there were no Republicans.)

AD64 – Mike Gipson (D) vs. Prophet Walker (D)
(Two Democrats were eliminated, there were no Republicans.)

AD71 – Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, vs. Tony Teora (R)
(These were the only two primary candidates.)

AD74 – Keith Curry (R) vs. Matthew Harper (R)
(Two Democrats and a Republican were eliminated.)

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  • Marga

    Let me make an impassioned plea /for/ the system.

    When all is said and done, only a quarter of registered voters will have voted in the primaries. These are a subset of eligible voters, which themselves are only a subset of the population.

    Let’s take for example, AD 15. Elizabeth Echols came out first. If this was a traditional partisan primary, she would have been assured victory in November. For all extents and purposes, she would have been elected by 14K of the 465K people that she would be representing, or about 3%.

    And this is Berkeley! How can we talk about Democracy when only 3% of the population get a say?

    At least this way, people will have a choice between two candidates come November. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than the alternative.

    What I would prefer is to do away with primaries, and institute rank-choice-voting in November. We have it in San Leandro and it works very well for getting more people involved in making the decisions. There have to be some adjustments made, but it’s far more democratic.

  • JohnW

    I don’t agree with Marga about Ranked Choice, but I agree with her defense of Top Two. There is nothing in the constitution about elections (1789 style or 2014 style) being between political parties. George Washington hated the idea.

    We do get a choice, between the two candidates able to get the most votes in the first round. Hopefully this will mean Democratic candidates with broader appeal in Republican districts, and Republicans with broader appeal in Democratic districts — elections between center right and center left, not between far right and far left.

    But the system doesn’t work very well when only 20 percent of registered voters take enough time to inform themselves at least a little bit and fill out a ballot.

  • Elwood

    “only 20 percent of registered voters take enough time to inform themselves”

    Does this include the 287,000 who voted for Leland Yee?

  • JohnW

    He must have a big family.

    It seems that those who can vote won’t. And those that want to can’t.

    Case in point is 93 year old Willie Mims in Alabama. Been voting since they started to allow his kind to vote without having to guess how many jelly beans were in the jar. Not this year though. Didn’t have his papers in order.

    Same thing happened to 93-year-old Viviette Applewhite (who isn’t white) in Pennsylvania in 2012.

    Sure glad we are getting a grip on the rampant in-person voter fraud problem.