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Jon Fleischman

Wednesday Not So Random Thoughts – The “Prop 14 Sucks Edition”

Some passing thoughts after observing the returns in the first round of balloting in 36th Congressional District special election in Los Angeles County…

  • Some California voters almost got their first taste of how they were misled by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the CalChamber, who promised that Prop. 14 would deliver increased voter choice.  When the dust settled in the first round of voting in CD 36 on the West side of Los Angeles County, Republican Craig Huey was holding onto the second spot in the runoff by about 200 votes.
  • The campaign of Secretary of State Debra Bowen has refused to concede, pointing out that nearly 10,000 late absentee ballots and provisional ballots have yet to be counted.
  • Hanging in the balance is a potential big embarrassment for proponents of Prop. 14.
  • If Bowen climbs back into second place, the “promise of choice” presented CD 36 voters would be candidates who have virtually identical positions on everything from supporting universal healthcare and defending Obamacare, both want to pull back U.S. Troops from around the world, both are proudly pro-choice, etc., etc.  There is literally no choice for moderate or conservative voters in that House race.  Let’s pray that Huey holds onto his slim lead!
  • If Bowen pulls it out, I guess California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg, who signed the ballot argument in support of Prop. 14, which closed saying, “Vote Yes on 14 — for elected representatives who are LESS PARTISAN and MORE PRACTICAL” would have to explain to all of the CalChambers members in Los Angeles County exactly which of these ultra-liberal Democrats are less partisan, and more practical.  Way to go.
  • Had Proposition 14 been rejected by voters, there would be no question that the runoff would have featured Democrat Janice Hahn and Republican Craig Huey — as well as Libertarian Steve Collett and Peace and Freedom candidate Maria Montano.
  • Hind sight being 20-20, it would appear that GOP party leaders should have gone in and pressured some well meaning, bright, articulate candidates who did not have Huey’s money to get out of the race.  Five Republicans nearly (and still might) mean the absence of a Republican in the run-off election.    Either way, the result of this CD 36 election should be a firmer resolve, at least on the Republican Party’s side, to come up with a system to unify behind one Republican candidate before June.
  • Of course, if the GOP ends up being candidate-less in the run off, look no further than House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy for someone to blame.  McCarthy led a coalition of folks at the last State GOP convention to kill the plan proposed by then Party Chairman Ron Nehring that would have ensured that local party leaders would pick a candidate before June.  McCarthy successfully convinced naïve delegates that Republicans should “let the voters decide” — despite all of arguments made by Nehring and other proponents of local GOP caucuses that a failure to unify Republicans before the first ballot meant we may not have a candidate in the runoff at all.  Remarkably prescient, Mr. Nehring.
  • I wrote about this yesterday on my friend Joel Fox’s website here.
  • In a letter to State GOP Convention delegates before last March’s confab, former California Republican Party Chairman Mike Schroeder and yours truly, in arguing for a plan to empower local GOP leaders to rally behind a candidate before the first election wrote, “Having a nominee is critical for a number of reasons, which include [and we listed first] being able to work to ensure that we have a candidate on the runoff ballot.”
  • Perhaps Republican leaders should reflect on these election results, and reconsider whether the newly adopted system that makes it very, very difficult for the Republican Party to officially weigh in before the first election was such a prudent system to put in place.  There is still plenty of time to retool the system so that local Republican representatives, within districts, and can decide if and when the party needs to help winnow the field to make sure it isn’t two Democrats that are the “choices” left to voters in the runoff.
  • Perhaps more significantly, because of this special election, some serious discussions can and should take place about placing on the June ballot of next year a ballot measure that will allows voters to replace this new, terrible Prop. 14 system with one that guarantees that every political party should have a candidate on the final ballot — providing real choice for the voters.
  • As it stands now, we all get a front row seat for a nail-biting experience as the remaining ballots are counted.
  • To all of the Republican candidates who campaigned hard in the CD 36 special election, especially to Craig Huey who as of now has made it into the runoff, I congratulate you on races well fought.  Now is the time to rally behind Huey.  And if he should tragically fall short as the remaining ballots are counted, I counsel you to hold each other harmless for the fact that there is no Republican in the runoff.  The fault lies not with each of you that had a vision for Republican leadership from that House District, but with the flawed election system adopted with the passage of Proposition 14 — a system that ensures that it is possible that everyone can work hard, and yet no one wins.
  • In the meantime, there is likely no shortage of political lawyers crammed into the office of the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.  At stake is whether CD 36 voters will have a meaningful choice in the run off.

One Response to “Wednesday Not So Random Thoughts – The “Prop 14 Sucks Edition””

  1. Ernie Konnyu Says:

    Instead of wasting time about how bad the Prop 14 law is we should remember that the “top 2” law at least in Louisiana, a heavily Democrat registered state, it worked to elect a Republican majority U.S. House delegation, a Republican governor and a Republican U.S. Senator. It’s the law in California so we, Republicans, ought to spend our time figuring out how we can make it work to our advantage.

    One of the fixes ought to be giving the party the practical instead of the theoretical ability to endorse and assist in the open primary! That should have been the case in this highly marginal district.

    McCarthy gummed up the Party endorsement mechanism in response to his political ally, the creator of Prop. 14, Abel Maldonado. Abel, who is not missed by many, is out of office now and his ambitions are at the mercy of the congressional district repportioners. He doesn’t really need this kind of help from McCarthy for Maldo is like a weed who, despite being sprayed in 2010 with herbacide by the voters, will spring back to political life anyway.