Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger loved the Democrats and did everything he could to help them. Except for this.
The Los Angeles Times reports that for the third consecutive election cycle, state and congressional races on California’s primary ballot will feature large pools of candidates no longer subdivided by partisan labels. Only the two contenders with the most votes in each race advance to a showdown in November, even those from the same party. The rest go home.
The top-two primary has maximized voter choice while minimizing the power of parties and interest groups to foresee the eventual outcome. Voters have the power — and sometimes the burden — of sorting through what can be lists filled with dozens of names.
The top-two primary was was approved in 2009 as a concession by Democrats in the California Legislature to a single Republican lawmaker in exchange for his support of a state budget package. When it appeared on the ballot the following spring as Proposition 14, the only leader embracing it was Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who insisted the top-two primary would discourage extreme partisanship while encouraging candidates to embrace the kind of centrist platform he believed voters were demanding.
The California primary that’s now less than three months away promises to be the system’s most important test, and possibly its most controversial. Although Democrats have largely consolidated their power behind just a few formidable candidates in statewide contests, local races with a multitude of candidates could allow Republicans to quell the anti-Trump fervor in at least four congressional districts that Democrats otherwise are well poised to capture.