CA Voters Nix Baby Step on Public Financing, Pass Game-Changing Primary System

By: Wednesday June 9, 2010 8:45 am

On June 8, California voters turned down campaign-finance reform but embraced an unusual new primary system. The results last night were a mixed bag. The biggest disappointment is that Prop. 15, a small step toward public financing of elections in California, failed by a wide margin. It looks like the corrupting influence of big money in politics will continue for a long time in the state. In retrospect, it was probably a bad decision to put Prop. 15 on the primary ballot when the big races were on the Republican side, with no major Democratic statewide races.

The lack of movement toward public financing of elections is even more disappointing because elections are likely to get more expensive in California, thanks to the passage of Prop. 14. The primary voters yesterday voted to make this the last “primary” as we know it. The so-called top-two primary ballot measure passed by a wide margin. This means all candidates will run in the same “primary” and the top two vote getters, regardless of party, will advance to the general. In effect, this moves the general election to June, with a runoff election months later in November. This eliminates the ability of parties to select their nominee for the general election and makes it unlikely any third-party candidates will be on the November ballot. The official description of Prop. 14 was very misleading. Voters in several districts may not realize what they signed up for when they face a choice between just two Democrats or two Republicans in general elections.

The good news is that Prop. 16, a disgusting power grab by power company PG&E, appears to have lost. The proposition would have made it much more difficult for local entities to create new utilities to compete with the power giant. PG&E spent millions on the ballot measure but the people of California rejected this naked attempt to use the initiative system to protect a corporation’s profits.

The California Chamber of Commerce backed Props. 14 and 16, while opposing Prop. 15. The corporatists won a few last night but it was not a clean sweep. I hope the voters of California enjoy the huge campaign spending by Meg Whitman, because without public financing of elections and with a new “primary” system that will likely make running for office even more expensive, it is a sign of things to come.


AL-Gov: Artur Davis, ConservaDem Casualty

By: Wednesday June 2, 2010 7:15 am

Let’s highlight the absolute trouncing given by Ron Sparks in the Alabama Governor’s race to Artur Davis, an African-American candidate who thought it would be a good idea to try and run the general election in the primary, amassing the voting record of a Dixiecrat and ignoring the black political leadership in the state.

Rethink Afghanistan: Broken Government’s Body Count

By: Friday May 21, 2010 3:15 pm

The government is broken, in Afghanistan and the United States, and if we don’t use government the way it’s supposed to function, if we continue to play media games with our politics, the death toll will only get worse.

Anti-Washington Establishment Triple Play

By: Wednesday May 19, 2010 7:42 am

Tuesday was a bad day for Washington establishment candidates and a bad day for conservative Democrats. All three establishment favorites performed poorly in the May 18 elections — and President Obama also fared badly as an endorser.

Longtime House Dem Incumbent Mollohan Defeated in WV Primary

By: Wednesday May 12, 2010 7:40 am

This primary definitely speaks to the deep anti-incumbent mood in the country.

Primary Opportunities Slip Away as Health Care Reform Vote Slides

By: Saturday March 6, 2010 7:45 am

Something jumped out at me in Jane Hamsher’s diary this morning about Lynn Woolsey’s treachery on Public Option: the California filing deadline for primary challenges is March 12th. I wondered: how many state primary deadlines will slip by as the House tries to make Bart Stupak happy? In how many states will progressive activists have to wait until 2012 to challenge Democratic incumbents who vote against women’s health rights and for a mandate to buy private health insurance? Are we losing 2010 accountability?

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