California's Moderate Republican Party?
Supporters touted California's newly adopted top-two voting system as the only way for moderates to overcome the ideologues that dominate the Republican and Democratic parties. That argument would have more weight if it weren't for the curious case of Abel Maldonado.
Richard Winger of Ballot Access News argues that the results of last Tuesday's Republican primaries in California proved that supporters oversold the case for the top-two election system voters adopted:
In a related vein, supporters of Proposition 14 said during the campaign, over and over, that Republican primaries in California always result in victories for extreme conservatives. However, in all the contested Republican statewide primaries this year, with a semi-closed system, the more conservative candidate (among those who had big campaigns) lost in each instance. Steve Poizner lost for Governor, Sam Aanestad lost for Lieutenant Governor, Orly Taitz lost for Secretary of State, Tom Harman lost for Attorney General, and Chuck Devore lost for U.S. Senator.
You could quibble with some of Winger's examples. While DeVore was a Tea Party favorite, Carly Fiorina definitely ran as a conservative too. Taitz is an anti-Obama conspiracy theorist, but does that really make her a conservative?
Still, I think that the point here is pretty strong: Moderates clearly can win Republican primaries in California, even in a year when conservatives are especially motivated. The really striking example is the race for lieutenant governor. Abel Maldonado won the nomination despite voting for the budget that raised taxes in 2009 -- the one California conservatives despised. He is a Schwarzenegger moderate by any reasonable definition.
As one of Winger's commenters points out, the irony is that Maldonado was the one that pushed for putting top-two on the ballot as part of last year's budget deal. The cynical view was that Maldonado was just doing that so that he could run statewide and win. But, as it turned out, he didn't need top-two to prevail in a Republican primary.
Clearly, ideology wasn't the dominant factor in who Republicans nominated in California. Money was. All of the conservative candidates Winger mentions were badly outspent. That's the crucial reason that they lost.
Given that, there's a case that another measure on California's ballot would more directly have attacked what is wrong with the state's elections than top-two. That measure, Prop. 15, would have set up an experiment in public funding of campaigns for races for secretary of state. It lost by a wide margin.
Of course, it's both unsurprising and understandable that, at a time when California is enduring a historically bad fiscal crisis, voters wouldn't be enthusiastic about spending money funding political candidates.
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
North Carolina Governor vetoes Anti-Gay Marriage Bill20 hours ago
The Week in Public Finance: Negative on Munis, Illinois Breakdown and Natural Disasters1 day ago
Chris Christie Rejects Common Core Education Standards1 day ago
How Illinois Might Pay for Police Body Cameras: Traffic Ticket Hikes1 day ago
Obama Adjusts His Legal Strategy in Immigration Case1 day ago
O'Malley 2016 Supporters Launch Super PAC Before His Official Announcement1 day ago