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Proposition 14: Changing the Primary Process

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Prop. 14 is Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado’s baby:
 “Prop. 14 I believe will fix some of the dysfunction and the chaos that goes on here in the California state Capitol.”

Last year, when he was a GOP Senator, Maldonado made a deal with Democrats to put the measure on the ballot in exchange for his vote on the budget. Prop. 14 sets up a “top-two” primary.  In statewide, legislative and congressional races, regardless of party, the top two vote getters would move on to the general election.  Maldonado says it would weaken political parties:
“They’re going to lose their influence. They won’t be able to manipulate politicians any longer when pop. 14 passes. You see, they don’t want the politicians to be accountable to the people. They want the politicians to be accountable to them.”

Governor Schwarzenegger backs the measure. He says the current primary system forces candidates to the extremes:

“So you’re producing people that are way to the left and way to the right and when they come to Sacramento they are way too far apart and they cannot get together.” 

But third parties say the measure would cut them out of the process. Debra Rieger (REE-gur) is a candidate for State Treasurer with the Peace and Freedom Party:

“We have four ballot qualified parties in Ca that are not Republican or Democrat. All four of those parties would never get a person running in the November Election. The parties would eventually die out.”

In an unusual coalition, the major parties have also joined the fight against 14. Thomas Del Beccaro with the California Republican Party says it would decrease voter choice – and turnout:

“It has the same type of impact that gerrymandering has. When you lessen somebody’s choice, they take a lesser interest.”

An analysis by the Center for Governmental Studies found that under Prop.14, more than a third of legislative and congressional general election races would be between two members of the same party – and most of the time, that would mean two Democrats.   A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll found about 60 percent of voters support the measure
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