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Old 09-20-2004, 03:05 PM   #1
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Non-Party Primary

I know we are past this portion of the election process (& I apologize if this has been discussed before), but I found this to be very interesting and something I would love to see adopted nationwide. For one I think it would break the 2 party dominance and thje other, several times I wanted to vote for someone in an other party (ov GOP) especially in local elections, but in OH was unable to.

Don't pinch me; I have a dream we can improve our political process

By Kate Riley
Seattle Times editorial columnist

So I've been indulging in daydreaming about a new populist renaissance, fueled by voters taking back their political system. Imagine moderates and independents cutting out of the political process those party bosses and special-interest groups who invade our living rooms and mailboxes with the lies of extremes.

Am I naive? Maybe not. You see, this is not a solitary reverie, but one shared up and down the West Coast from California to Alaska — by some people more politically savvy than I am.

Exhibits A and B hail from California: Leon Panetta, a Democrat, was President Clinton's chief of staff; and Richard Riordan, a Republican, was mayor of Los Angeles and currently is education secretary under the state's Republican governor.

The Democrat and the Republican might be voting for different presidential candidates, but they are of one mind when it comes to how to wrest California government from the political extremes and return it to the people.

They are campaign co-chairmen for Proposition 62, a Nov. 2 ballot measure that would change California's partisan primary to one that permits all voters to consider all candidates. The top two vote-getters would advance to the general election, regardless of party.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled California's blanket primary unconstitutional. The parties argued successfully it violated their rights because, by letting all voters vote on all candidates, it permitted nonparty members to pick who represented the respective parties in the general election. Washington's state parties smelled blood in the water, sued and also prevailed in the courts. Tuesday, for the first time in 70 years, Washington voters had to confine their primary choices to candidates of only one party. I didn't like it, and neither did about 79 percent of voters, according to one election-day survey.

That's fine with Riordan and Panetta, who point to their parties' bosses divvying up California so drastically most districts are either predominantly Republican or Democrat. In such signed-sealed-and-delivered districts, independents and those in the minority party have no say in who represents them.

"It's almost impossible for moderates to get their candidates elected," Riordan said.

The effect is nonrepresentative government, Panetta says: "The partisan primary has produced a legislature that is much more partisan and extreme in terms of policy and does not reach out to the broad center of voters."
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