HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Twitter:
@digby56
@DavidOAtkins

emails:
Digby:
digbysez at gmail
David:
isnospoon at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news

Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
BagNewsNotes
Daily Kos
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Echidne
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
oilprice.com
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist


Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Saturday, January 04, 2014

 
Law of unintended consequences: California's top-two primary helps cement institutional intra-Party control

by David Atkins

In 2010 Californians enacted a top-two primary system, replacing the traditional partisan primaries with jungle primaries in which all primary contestants appear on the same ballot, and the top two advance regardless of partisan affiliation. The move was sold as a way to reduce the power of political parties in elections while giving independents a greater shot at elected office. It is the dream child of moderate Republicans who feel left behind by the Tea Party right, but are far too conservative to become even Blue Dog Democrats and now style themselves as "independents."

It is a debatable question whether giving austerity-loving social moderates like Dan Schnur and Michael Bloomberg more political space to operate while weakening institutional political parties is a good thing. I would say it is not. But regardless of desirability of the intent, the results of the top-two primary have been counterproductive to that intent. No independents have been elected to state or federal office; very few even made it out of a state or federal primary. Meanwhile, elections have become even more partisan as a great many very partisan blue or red districts saw GOP-on-GOP and Dem-on-Dem battles all the way into November, leading inevitably to more polarized outcomes and greater special interest spending in elections. Political parties have also become more aggressive about forcing weak candidates out of primary races in order to avoid scenarios such as occurred in CA31, where two Republicans advanced to the general in what should have been a safe Democratic seat because seven Democrats split their votes. These problems with the top-two primary have all been widely reported.

But another largely unreported problem is also occurring that is reinforcing institutional control within the political parties at the county central committee level. To understand how, a small introduction to central committee structure is necessary.

Every Democratic and Republican county central committee has its own bylaws that govern who can be a member. Some committees are expansive and large, and some are very restrictive and small. In Ventura County, for instance, the Democratic central committee is approximately four times the size of the Republican one, despite nearly equal numbers of Democratic and Republican voters in the county.

A key feature of nearly every county committee, however, is the elected membership. America is one of the few countries in which elections for these political party offices appear on the public ballot at taxpayer expense. These individuals appear on the public partisan primary ballot in even years, elected either by supervisory or Assembly district, their number a function of the number of fellow partisan voters in that district. To again use Ventura County as an example, elected central committee members are voted in by the public in each of the five supervisory districts. Democratic primary voters get to pick six elected members in the heavily Democratic 1st district, but only four in the much more Republican 4th district. Registered Republican primary voters have the opposite skew.

Generally speaking, county committee members elected by the public tend to have privileges greater than those of other members on the theory that being elected by the public carries more weight than being selected in a back room. If a central committee becomes too staid and institutionally sedentary, one of the best courses for a populist activist is to run a slate of candidates for county central committee on the public ballot. Tea Party and progressive activists alike have done just this in counties all across America in order to refresh their parties and shake up institutional dead weight.

This is where the unintended consequences of the top-two non-partisan primary come in. Remember that partisan central committee elections can only take place in partisan elections: you can't have Democrats voting for Republican central committee members and vice versa. But in California elections there are now no partisan primaries except for one race: the President of the United States, in which federal elections law supersedes state law.

But, of course, the President is only elected on four-year terms. Which means that in California midterms there simply is no partisan primary. Democrats, Republicans and non-partisan voters all receive the same ballot. That in turn means that intra-party central committee elections can no longer be held on 2-year cycles, since no county central committee can begin to fund the expense of a public election on its own.

So central committees of both parties all across California have been forced to quietly examine their bylaws and shift to four-year cycles for elected committee members due to the top-two primary. That in turn means that it's twice as hard for populist activists to run grassroots campaigns to shake up machine-like county committees.

As a committee member elected on the public ballot in 2010 and again in 2012, that's great for me personally: I don't have to defend my seat again until 2016. But it also means that there's less recourse to get rid of me if I become corrupted and entrenched. As a county committee political party chair I now have less public accountability than a United States Representative thanks to the top-two primary, empowering me as a political party official while disempowering the public.

California's top-two primary was an ill-advised and ill-considered move on many levels, some of which are only now becoming apparent. It's a mistake other states should definitely avoid.


.

Search Digby!