This weekend the CA Repubs are meeting to plan the future of their party in this state. Sparks are flying over Prop 14. Outgoing party Chairman Ron Nehring has a great (i.e., self-destructive) idea. Choose one Repub candidate per office, and back him/her to the hilt in the primary. Conservative Rep. Dana Rohrbacher supports the idea. It’s a sure way for the Tea Party to take over that organization.
They’ll make a lot of noise, but they won’t win many elections. Dems are 40% of registered voters, and over 20% are independent. Repubs have 30% now, but if the Tea Party takes over that will drop.
State Sen. Sam Blakeslee said he was “deeply disturbed” by Nehring’s proposal. Good! Hopefully, he and other moderate Repubs will be driven from the party.
Nehring said that Prop 14, has “many unintended consequences that we are just starting to see now.” That’s right, bro. It’s going to, hopefully, scatter the two-party system.
There is another good omen. On May 17 there will be a special primary election to replace former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice). Big name CA Dems joining the contest include Janice Hahn, Debra Bowen, and progressive Marcy Winograd. Many lesser known folks from the two major parties and from all over the place are filing their papers to get on the ballot.
The good news here is that, under Prop 14, party elites have no control over who files to be on the ballot. Candidates are using party labels on their own choice. By doing this, they are weakening party power. As the field gets more crowded with party labels, those labels will mean less and less!
After a few election cycles like this, maybe people will learn to vote for individuals, rather than party labels. Voters will do a little research, and elections will become an education to the electorate. Prop 14 can grow democracy in CA, and then could spread to other states.
William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.