Excitable Juan Williams: Brokeifornia’s New Election Rules Are Super Awesome


In case you didn’t hear, the brokeyest broke state in the Union has new election rules. On one hand, Juan Williams has some interesting point about them. On the flip side, ugh

(The Hill) Polarization and gridlock have paralyzed Congress. But now, a bright ray of hope for ending those twin curses is emerging from election results in California.

The optimism begins with changes in the system for electing lawmakers in the Golden State, home to the largest congressional biggest delegation.

In 2010, a diverse group of the state’s biggest political stakeholders – including the California Chamber of Commerce, the AARP and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – united to support a ballot proposition creating a bipartisan commission that redrew the geographic lines for California’s congressional districts.

Hey, bipartisan! Sweet…but

Out of California’s 53 House races, seven incumbents lost their seats as they ran in more diverse districts – in which candidates had to appeal to more diverse neighborhoods and political groups.

So, they were gerrymandered in order to create more Democrat friendly districts. Two Republicans are in 50-50 races right now. Here’s where it gets more interesting

The proposition also changed the rules for the general election.

The old system pitted the winners of the party’s primaries against each other. The new system provides for the two candidates with the most votes in an open congressional primary to move on to the general election – even if they belong to the same party.

On one hand, this is a good way to clean out the incumbents. As Juan noted, 7 lost their seats (it should be noted that 2 incumbents lost in newly created districts and were competing against another incumbent, in both cases Democrat). However, under the new rules there were 6 districts where only Democrats were on the ballot and 2 where only Republicans were on the ballot. Let’s look at a few

  • In the 31st, there were 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans for the primary. It ended up R vs R. So, no Dem competing in the General
  • In the 35th, 2 Dems and one Green. The Green was not on the General election ballot
  • In the 30th, 3 R’s, 3 D’s, and one Green. The General ballot featured 2 Democrats.
  • The 8th, 10 R’s, 2 D’s, one Independent. The General ballot featured 2 Republicans

Granted, in all of these the chance of the other party (or 3rd Party) winning the district was mostly zip. However, should the people of Brokeifornia not have the chance to vote for a different party on the ballot during the General Election? This limits democracy.

Under this new system, the 24/7 news cycle and partisan bloggers, which encourage the loudest and most extreme voices, are not as able to define the race and control the outcome.

How dare you darned news folks and jammie wearing bloggers push your opinions!!!!!!1!!!!

The bottom line is that voters have more choice among candidates competing for the middle ground, not to be a champion of one political extreme.

Exactly how is limiting the number of people on a ballot creating more choice? How is shutting out competing parties “more choice”?

This also applies to the State legislature races, in which featured 19 same party races. None of the state or House races have seemed to “create more moderates”, as was the intention.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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