Prop. 14 is likely to leave voters with little choice

Jon Fleischman
Publisher of the FlashReport

Today is election day for voters in the 36th Congressional District on the West end of Los Angeles County. This District’s partisan voter registration gives a big edge to Democrats, and whether one or two Dems make the runoff, it is very unlikely that the successor to Jane Harman will not come from her same political party.

But my intention with this post is not to provide in-depth political analysis of the CD 36 Special Election — I’m happy to leave that kind of cut-up to Allan Hoffenblum or Tony Quinn. I actually wanted to use today, election day, to bitterly complain about the new rules of engagement with passage of Proposition 14. Specifically, I want to lament the passing of the spirited primary process where candidates of each party were able to wage strong campaigns against one another, assured that when the dust settled, each party would put forward it’s top vote-getter against the nominees of other parties.

Now, thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abel Maldonado, and the California Chamber of Commerce, we have this new system in place. It is a system where party bosses are encouraged, through whatever means of cajoling or coercing possible, to try and winnow the field — because, of course, no longer is a political party guaranteed a seat at the runoff table. Which is what very well might happen tonight. It is verypossible that Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be the top two vote-getters, and advance to the runoff, leaving no Republican choice on the ballot. Of course, this would present a couple of non-choices to GOP voters in a few weeks as both Hahn and Bowen are so liberal that they probably both self-identify as “socialist” when they take that online political IQ quiz (much to the dismay of Democrat Marci Winograd, the Marxist supported by Ed Asner who would tell you that both Hahn and Bowen are right wingers).

The only chance that Republicans have for a standard bearer in the runoff is conservative businessman (and fellow YoungAmericans for Freedom alumnus) Craig Huey. Huey has waged a strong campaign, and has also put in over a half-million dollars of his own money into his GOTV efforts. That having been said, the albatross around Huey’s neck is that there are five other Republicans running, and it’s very possible that each of them will shave off just enough of the vote (despite their relatively anemic fundraising) to deprive Huey of a showdown against Hahn or Bowen. Don’t get me wrong, anything is possible — after all, Democrats have five candidates on the ballot.

The real losers here are the voters — because we have a system in place now where it is entirely possible that you will end up staring at a ballot where there are two candidates who have virtually the same positions on all of the issues facing our country — and no real choice at all. And so there is the big lie that was perpetrated on California voters last June… Arnold, Abel and the rest made the case to voters that Proposition 14 would excise the “special interests” and give voters more real choices. Well, this first test case in a Congressional District is an epic failure for the new system, as it is probable that voters won’t have a real choice at all. And as for the special interests — under Prop. 14 it costs a heck of a lot more money to campaign for office. You tell me who it is in politics that doles out the money…

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