Have we ever had a more dismal election? For the first time in 60 years there is no serious race for governor, nor any other partisan statewide office. Voters in competitive districts are exposed to the usual swarm of campaign mailers. But one thing is new this year; candidates in same party runoffs are making serious appeals across party lines, further evidence that our new “top two” primary is working as it should.
Because of our new primary system, California no longer nominates partisan candidates for state or federal office, instead the top two primary finishers run off in November. As a consequence, this year there are 25 same party runoffs for Assembly, Senate and Congress. Not all, of course, are serious campaigns, but those that are have found a magic bullet in appealing to members of the party that has no candidate on the ballot.
Consider the heavily Democratic 6th Senate district that covers mostly the city of Sacramento. The top two finishers in the primary were the two Assembly members overlapping the Senate district, Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Richard Pan, both Democrats.