Friday, February 20, 2009

The Good And The Bad Of A Lone Voter

The Good: Abel Maldonado won his bid this week to become the most hated member of his party when he cast the deciding vote for the budget plan ending the 106 day (manufactured) stand-off. Naturally, for his act of post-partisanship, his own party is going to eat him alive - beginning this weekend at the GOP convention here in Sac. Loud bloggers like Jon Fleischman has already introduced a censure resolution to punish Maldonado and the other pro-voters for their tax-hiking offenses against mankind.

What's cute is how this is covered like news, rather than the normal course of business. (See: Pescetti, Anthony; Briggs, Mike) Maldonado has always been relatively moderate and was ripe for the picking by his cannabalistic party. Let no good deed go unpunished, y'all! Such political theater, no? Somehow, the "Legislature's" failure to act is felt as a Democratic failure (see e.g. - and don't even get me started on that being in the Capitol where it is) while no press pays attention to this equally valid counter-argument.

But nevermind all that now. It's done. Until voters kill the necessary ballot measures they'll face in May, of course. Eek! Remember how well the last measure-only election went. Doh!

The Bad: Mr. Maldonado, an Open Primary again, really? Really! Really:
A proposed constitutional amendment would go before voters in June 2010 instituting a "top-two" primary system, which would effectively eliminate party primary ballots, erase candidate party labels in primary elections and allow voters to choose the two candidates - of whatever party - who would compete in the general election.
Could it get us more moderate candidates? Maybe. And yes, that would be great. Seriously - it would be really, really great. But we just revised the redistricting system, so should we see if that works first? When conducting experiments in democracy, let's decrease the variables in any given election.

And I'll never support removing party ID from ballots. Non-partisan elections are a fiction helping no one.

Of course, I understand why this policy change is important to him now (see above). And I don't think he deserves what he's about to get from his own party (which needed him to vote for that budget, make no mistake). I probably wouldn't help him (or his party) anyway:
Political consultant Paul Mitchell ran the numbers on which primaries would have moved on to a runoff under the Maldonado's "top two" plan:

"The biggest effect is the “Top Two” twist. With Top Two you would have districts in which either two Republicans or two Democrats move on to the General against each other. Then the Republicans have to chose among two Democrats – probably giving the election to the more moderate candidate.

"Just looking at the 2008 primary elections, and dismissing the “crossover” votes for this analysis, check out the wild General Elections we would have had this past November:

SD 3: Leno vs. Migden
SD 9: Hancock vs. Chan
SD 23: Pavley vs. Levine
SD 25: Wright vs. Dymally

AD 8: Cabaldon vs. Yamada
AD 14: Skinner vs. Thurmond
AD 19: Hill vs. Papan
AD 46: Perez vs. Chavez
AD 52: Hall vs. Harris-Forster
AD 62: Carter vs. Navarro"

Interestingly, no Republican races would have gone to a runoff.
So it's not going to help him. I still wish he wasn't facing certain replacement, however. Hats off to you, for taking one for the team.

3 comments:

Kerri said...

That's Chris's open primary initiative. He's quite proud.

Anonymous said...

But the question is how many races would have seen moderate challengers in an open primary. In the end Republicans can't win a seat in an ethnic enclave like South Central Los Angeles, but working class Democrats can make a difference in places like Orange County and Riverside. Also, you are talking as if the amount of competitive November races is necessarily a negative for Democrats. Under the examle you gave, all of those areas would have had much higher turnouts for the general election than they did. Democrats always do better as a group when people have a reason to be engaged in the political process and the system always does better when those reasons involve making a choice between candidates they can actually know and trust instead of the media created candidates for statewide and national office that people have to choose from today. JMO!

Doug J said...

Anonymous is right: the system has a major impact over who runs, so looking back at recent elections really is a smoke screen.

I think redistricting reform & open elections work hand in hand: open elections brings coalition-building to communities that are naturally one-party, not gerrymandered that way (like SF on the left or south Orange County on the right).