Wednesday, November 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Voters win with top-two primary

TomEliasW

By
From page B3 | June 05, 2014 |

Results like those from this week’s primary cause detractors to call California’s four-year-old “top two” election system the “jungle primary” because it often features races with a dozen or more contestants and outcomes that can be completely unpredictable.

For sure, that makes it a lot more fun both to vote and follow election returns — unless you are a prominent candidate or a boss of either major party.

Focus on just one statewide race for a solid picture of what the top-two system can do. This one came within a hair (and a recount might change things back) of absolutely assuring the Republican Party of one of California’s four leading political offices this fall, even though registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans by about 15 percent.

That race pitted two established, well-funded Democratic candidates against two Republicans, with one more Democrat and a Green Party hopeful also in the field. Not as many prospects as in some other races, but still plenty to scramble some establishment eggs.

The 10.9 percent of the Election Day vote count won by virtually unknown Democrat Tammy D. Blair and Green Laura Wells knocked down the counts of former Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez and state Board of Equalization member Betty Yee. And so, for much of Election Night, it appeared that Republicans Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, and David Evans, a CPA and former mayor of tiny California City, would meet this fall with no Democratic opposition.

In a state that has seen no statewide Republican office-holders for almost four years, that would have been remarkable.

But Pérez edged out Evans by a mere 2,436 votes, a 21.7 percent performance, when all the counting was done on Election Night, and appeared headed for a runoff with Swearengin (who herself had just 24.4 percent), pending the count of thousands of provisional and damaged ballots, not to mention a potential recount.

Under the previous party primary system, there would have been little remarkable in those numbers — Swearengin would have been the GOP nominee and the Democratic winner would still be in the balance, but for sure a Democrat and a Republican would have faced off in the fall.

If this kind of narrow race for an office whose occupant is the state’s chief check-writer doesn’t prove that every vote matters, it’s hard to see what could. Top-two, then, will provide future motivation for two things: It will give voters more reason than ever to participate. And it will give parties reason to get organized well enough to avoid matchups between prominent party mates for the same office.

There was no such organization in either party this time. The result is that in district after district, races will pit people from the same parties in runoffs this fall. In runs for Congress alone, seven districts in all parts of the state will see Democrat vs. Democrat and Republican on Republican.

In some of those contests, incumbents ran up large primary majorities, but still must run again in the fall, suggesting that top-two should be tweaked to make winning 50 percent of the primary vote sufficient for election. If that were the case now, Gov. Jerry Brown would already have a second term. Similarly, incumbent members of Congress like Xavier Becerra, Tom McClintock, Adam Schiff, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Mike Thompson must contest again in November, despite far outdistancing all who ran against them this spring.

More interesting will be the same-party race pitting Republicans Tony Strickland and Steve Knight in a district stretching from Ventura County to the High Desert portion of Los Angeles County, and another matching first-term Democrat Eric Swallwell and state Senate majority leader Ellen Corbett in the East Bay suburbs of San Francisco.

Silicon Valley gets a ballyhooed intraparty race between longtime incumbent Democrat Mike Honda and the well-funded Indian-American Ro Khanna. Members of the minority party in each of those districts can now decide the fall outcomes, exactly what top-two intended.

This primary also debunked the notion that top-two allows only major party candidates onto runoffs. Incumbents Schiff and Thompson both face independents.

It’s all different from after any previous California primary, with incumbents less secure than before, and voters with the power they sought when they created top-two.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Food fight … in a good way

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Fremont Weir parking lot remains closed

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

    Occupy movement settles in at UC Davis

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Time to give thanks for nature’s beauty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Second cat-hoarding suspect arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Guard reinforcements contain damage in Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Weather affecting Thanksgiving travelers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Year-end films to see, or not, on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    LCI marks 50 years with special service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Happy Thanksgiving from The Enterprise

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Learn to use Skype at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Girls who volunteer may apply for grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis Community Gift Project brightens holidays for children

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Speaker proposes changes in humanities doctorate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Senior Center hosts holiday sing-along

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Sutter sponsors qigong for holiday de-stress

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Boy Scouts start Christmas tree sales on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Volunteers needed to grow plants for habitat restoration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Rainbow City community meeting set Dec. 1

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    She wants more from him

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Musings in the wake of Ferguson decision

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Rich Rifkin: Is it time to be a bear or a bull?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    Planting love at new home

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Innovation parks comparison

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Blue Devils prepare for a new season on the mat

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    No excuses, but there’s hope for UCD after 2-9 season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Joseph, Manzanares lead 10 All-Big Sky Aggie picks

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    DHS wrestling is not just for boys

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Let’s not lose another good DHS coach

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1

     
    Davis Little League offers early sign-up discounts

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Kings get past Pelicans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Features

    Salute to non-steamed broccoli

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    It really is ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Elzyne Thompson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Death notice: Buddy Ralph Mills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Ready, Set, Shop!

    Shop locally: You can have your pie and eat it too

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS1

    Santa’s little helper: secrets to happy holiday shopping

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: RSS2

    Make sure it gets there: deadlines for shopping and shipping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS2

    Downtown lights up at holiday open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS3

    Full of warm wishes and over-sharing, the holiday card lives on

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS4

    Shop smart: Protect your wallet and your identity this shopping season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5

    Woodland celebrates the holidays downtown

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5