Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Top Two primary a divisive issue

Note: Our new regular feature covering the Daily Show highlights does not appear this week because the show was on hiatus.

The Top Two primary (see our report on why it's unsound for Washington State) remains a divisive issue here in Washington State. It seems a lot of Democrats and Republicans disagree with their party leadership and wish the parties weren't suing to toss out the system imposed by voters in November.

(By the way, you can read the legal brief filed by the Democrats in the case here).

Bloggers Tim Copeland of Blue Washington and Emmett O'Connell from Olympia Time disagree with the parties' lawsuits.

Emmett writes:
"I think the parties' lawsuit against the Top Two, or at least the Democratic Party's, is short sighted in terms of trying to grow our grassroots. The voters have already rejected the open primary option once for the Top Two. From the party leadership point of view, don't you think it would be worse if the voters eventually made all elections non-partisan? If we keep on fighting the voters, we'll eventually get there."
Voters rejected the open primary system because they're not used to having that kind of primary. The blanket primary had been in place for about 70 years.

The bottom line is that the state simply cannot violate the Constitution of the United States of America. If this "top-two" primary system violates the parties' freedom of association (and we agree with them that it does) then it has to go. The court will decide.

It doesn't matter whether a majority of the state's voters like that kind of outcome or not. It doesn't matter if the Grange likes it either. They can't set up a system that doesn't pass constitutional muster.

Most of the rest of the country uses open or closed primary systems without any problem. If they can do it, so can we. It will take some time to transition to an open primary system, but it's worth it.

We believe a proposal to make all elections nonpartisan would fail miserably. Almost all voters I've talked to who say they support the blanket primary and Top Two also say they don't support a proposal to make elections nonpartisan.

The main backlash from the new primary system came directly from the state Grange last year, not voters. As Goldy points out in his blog today, these morons were so stupid that they didn't even bother to refile their initiative proposal after the Legislature changed the law.

They wrote their initiative before the adoption of the open primary and didn't file a new initiative after the law had been changed. This means that the law still says voters have to vote on a partisan ballot. The only difference is that only the top two vote getters will move one Democrat and one Republican.

Secretary of State Sam Reed doesn't care what the law says, though. He's going to try and hold a Louisiana style crossover primary anyway. We strongly disapprove of this arrogant decision.

With any luck, the federal court will get rid of the top two primary system and reinstate a proper open primary system that respects the rights of political parties.

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