St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

California declares war on independents, 3rd parties

California voters passed Proposition 14 this week to replace its party primaries with a "jungle primary" in which all candidates from all parties compete in the same contest, with the top two finishers - regardless of party - being the only candidates allowed to advance to the November general election. This law effectively eliminates independent and third-party candidates from the general election, when more voters participate, and relegates the real choice to the jungle primary in June, when fewer voters participate.

Proposition 14 had the backing of many California Democrats as well as their frequent ally, lame duck moderate Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The express purpose of the law is to favor "moderate" candidates and eschew extremes on either side. Corporate interests poured nearly $5 million into the campaign promoting the proposition.

A similar ballot measure in Oregon, whose ballot language more accurately described what the proposal would do, was defeated earlier this year. The California ballot language, drafted by Attorney General (and Democratic gubernatorial nominee) Jerry Brown, is believed to have been key to the California law's passage. Oakland, CA financial specialist Laura Wells, this year's Green Party nominee for California Governor, charged, "Behind the scenes, Brown sides with corporate money, against the people and voter choice."

Wells noted, "The rotten part of Prop. 14 is that what it promised - open elections - is the exact opposite of what it will do. Prop. 14 will keep dissenting voices off the big November ballot."

Greens, conservative Republicans and as many as five other ballot-qualified parties are mulling a constitutional challenge to the new law.