29 Oct 2010

Cutler and Chafee Proof Top Two Primaries Terrible for Independents

Back before I even started this blog, I was arguing against what seems so plainly a stupid idea for independents to support… the top two primary. There are several reasons that someone might be against this, but the most important from the position of independents that would like actually see independents represent them in government, is that it destroys most independents’ chances, given that independents start with a huge disadvantage and need the whole election calendar to catch up with the institutional advantages that come with being major party nominees.

In a guest post on over at Donklephant about five months ago, I had this to say:

I am personally quite familiar with these kinds of rules. In my home state of Nebraska, I considered running for state senate, as an independent, myself. This rule was not the only reason I decided not to do so, but looking at a short primary season where I would have had to overcome a huge money, organizational and manpower deficit… it certainly was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back. Had I had the entire campaign season to catch up, my decision could have been different.

In other words… we’re hurting our own chances, in trade for a rule that has no history of lowering partisanship, and actually has a track record of lowering the rate of incumbent turnover.

That organizations, like CAIVN for instance, don’t see this just by thinking it through logically is… hard for be to believe. I don’t want to think that they could be so naive, but I don’t know what else it could be… Now though, with several big ticket independents running for office, they have the facts staring them in the face.

We wont know for a few days whether they will win, but Eliot Cutler, independent candidate for governor of Maine, and Lincoln Chafee, independent candidate for governor of Rhode Island, would both have been disqualified for running had only two candidates been allowed through the primary.

I’d like an answer on this… how can supporters not only justify their support of Prop 14 in California earlier this year, in the face of these facts, but also openly continue the push to bring similar laws to other states. Or are you going to get your heads out of the sand, open your eyes and get back on track, focusing on the issue independent groups have been working on for years… a lack of REAL open primaries.

I’ll end this post the same way I ended the post I quoted above from five months ago…

I wont mince words on this issue. Independents who support this top two primary “reform” should be ashamed of themselves.

Author Details
After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
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After a few years of blogging on other sites, Solomon launched ‘Rise of the Center’ – the precursor to Uniters.org, leading to a number of interviews and freelance opportunities, most notably covering the 2012 election cycle on WNYC.org – the website for the largest NPR station in the country, in New York City – and reported from the floor of the 2012 Democratic & Republican National Conventions. After a hiatus from politics, the horrific circus of the 2016 election, and more generally increasing extremism and corruption, brought him back to this project.
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2 thoughts on “Cutler and Chafee Proof Top Two Primaries Terrible for Independents”

  1. Solomon,

    What is the solution then? I understand your argument, but I would like to know what you would want instead.

    As for me, I think a top two primary system is alright as long as there is also instant runoff. That way voters won't have to worry that their votes for a third party or independent candidate won't splinter the votes and give the election to their opponent. So right now I think a top two instant runoff primary system is the way to go. What are your thoughts on that?

  2. My solution is the solution independent groups have been pushing for for years already… open primaries.

    I'm not okay with ANY top two system. Its utterly antidemocratic to say that people shouldn't be allowed to vote for whoever they want in a general election. Primaries are an invention of parties to come to a consensus nominee amongst their own.

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