Saturday, March 19, 2011


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.

Info from:;


richardwinger said...

Prop. 14 has not been working well in California. We have already had three special legislative elections this year, and the same people who would have won under the old system, won under the new system. The only difference is that not one member of a qualified minor party has been permitted to run in these elections, because Prop. 14 dramatically increased the difficulty of getting on the primary ballot.

d.eris said...

"Candidates are using party labels on their own choice."

As I understand it, this is not actually the case. Is it not true that candidates can only use the party label of their choice if that party is officially recognized by the state of California? If your party or group is not officially recognized by the state, you are forced to have "no party affiliation" listed next to your name on the ballot.

wjk said...

D.eris is partly correct; that is, an old law still on the books does limit candidates to the labels of “qualified” parties, or else no party affiliation. But that law is doomed. Prop 14 took away the special privileges of political parties, basically eliminating the very notion of “qualified” parties. So, CA is still in a transition period.

That we are in transition is a condition Richard refuses to recognize. He says Prop 14 isn’t working because in three special election, “the same people who would have won under the old system, won under the new system.” But the huge change in CA politics that Prop 14 aims to make will take a few election cycles to begin to reach its goals. We haven’t even had one general election under Prop 14, and Richard wants to repeal it as a failure.

Why? He is a true believer in having elitist, or “qualified,” parties dominating CA politics. That is why he theatrically proclaims that “not one member of a qualified minor party has been permitted to run in these elections.” Notice the word “permitted.” He wants readers to think that the governator stood at the SOS door, arms akimbo, and said “NO” to the beleaguered little minor party members who really wanted to run.

Richard adds that “Prop. 14 dramatically increased the difficulty of getting on the primary ballot.” In fact, the exact opposite of that is true. Prop 14 has made it easier for any individual to get on the ballot who wants to run.

Richard laments that the new law takes away the undemocratic special privileges that the parties once had. He doesn’t like the more democratic condition of equal opportunity for all individuals, whether in a party or not.

Like I said, the Repubs are feeling the heat. They know their private organization is on the ropes. While the Dems are the top dogs in CA politics currently, in time that could change. With a long list of names followed by “Democrat” on the ballot, that label will soon mean little. When candidates are allowed to use any label, then all labels will have little meaning. Voters will have to do some reading to learn what the differences are between the candidates as individual persons (rather than representatives of private, party, corporations).

BTW the number of people reading about political issues online is increasing, according to a recent Pew study. If this continues, the need for party labels as cues for voters will decline even further, and the emergence of candidates as persons will increase.

richardwinger said...

I repeat, Prop. 14 made it harder for some candidates to get on the PRIMARY ballot. Prop. 14 hurts independent candidates by saying they can't use the word "independent" and by making it far less likely that they will get on the 2nd round. And by blocking write-in votes in the 2nd round, if Alaska had a Prop. 14, all the votes for Senator Lisa Murkowski (which were enough to elect her) could not have been counted.

I wish I could speak to Dr. Kelleher. My phone is 415-922-9779. He is trying to read my mind, without ever having had a phone conversation with me. 13 states elected independent legislators last year, not one of them came from a top-two state.

wjk said...

1. “Prop. 14 made it harder for some candidates to get on the PRIMARY ballot.”
Relative to what? First, when parties dominated, it was easier for the party favorite to get on the primary ballot. Those are the ones for whom it is now harder. But its easier for the greater number.

Now all hopefuls have an equal opportunity to get on that ballot. For Richard, that’s bad. For me, that’s good.

I don’t have to try to read his mind to reach that conclusion; I read his writings at Ballot, his news letter (to which I will soon subscribe), and all over the Net. (Have I said anything untrue?)

2. CA law is in a goofy condition with respect to what label candidates can use. Like I said, the old law lingers on, but will hopefully be changed soon.

3. A “top two” system is necessary for the candidates to have legitimacy. This way, a candidate will always win by a majority.

Richard’s idea of having write ins is politically unwise. This would invite a situation in which “A” wins with 34% of the vote, while B/C each get 33%. That would alienate 66% of the electorate – politically unwise.

4. If Alaska had a Prop 14, it would not be Alaska (BTW Alaska was one of the first states to use Internet voting, and all went well.)

Richard is very generous with his time. Thanks, guy.

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

How is this working well? You knew this was going to happen, and if you think the democrats wont do the same you're deluding yourselves. Just like people warned you folks, this is going to put MORE power into the hands of party insiders, not less, because they're just going to push who decides how the parties decide who gets their support even farther back, and to an even smaller and more partisan group of people than primary voters.

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

"A “top two” system is necessary for the candidates to have legitimacy. This way, a candidate will always win by a majority."

Is this a joke? There are at least a half dozen forms of run offs that do this...

Solomon Kleinsmith said...

Yeah, looks like they're going to have an internal primary by mail.

Apparently the dems already can choose their candidates with a pre-primary caucus system, but may change that at their upcoming convention.

Funny thing about some of you top two supporters (not all, but William and Nancy are among the worst examples of this), is everyone you see who isn't a party hater, must be a party lover.

I'm not a party hater, but people have the RIGHT to join together into political associations, should they choose to. Fair law would be party neutral, but you are so blinded by your hatred of parties that you want to use the power of the government to hinder political parties.

Or in other words, you're just like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

richardwinger said...

I'm tempted to say that Nancy and Bill are going to start picketing military funerals with signs that say, "George Washington hates parties!" and "Parties rot in hell!" (ok, just adding a little joke here).

wjk said...

Why not? It's our 1st Amd right!

Solomon said...

Walker is more accurate, but that's certainly more amusing, haha