Promoters of Proposition 14 on the June ballot are calling it the "open" primary.
Ah yes, "open" makes it sound so inclusive, so liberating, so
egalitarian — what could possibly be wrong with that? If you pay
taxes in California, the answer is: plenty!
Prop. 14 is the result of collusion between an ambitious politician,
newly appointed Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, and entrenched Sacramento
spending interests. A year ago, then-Senator Maldonado, a Republican,
sold his vote for the most massive tax increase in the history of all
50 states, in return for an agreement to place a measure on the ballot
that would make it easier for him to run for statewide office. That
measure is Proposition 14.
Maldonado, who voted for increases in the sales, income and car tax in
direct violation of a voluntary pledge he made to voters in his
district, calls himself a "moderate." This, of course, is an insult to
genuine political moderates who do not regard betraying an oath to
their constituents as a part of their political philosophy.
The response to Prop. 14 by many politicos and special interests that
rely on state spending, has been much like Br’er Rabbit’s famous plea.
"Drown me! Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please," said Br’er
Rabbit. "Only please, Br’er Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar
Why do they actually like the Proposition 14 system? Because it would
make it easier to elect "moderates" like Maldonado willing to support
new taxes to feed the Sacramento spending beast.
So exactly how does Prop. 14 work? Unlike a genuine open primary, where
voters can chose on election day which party’s primary they wish to
participate in, Prop. 14 allows candidates to run for office without a
party designation. Voters must choose between all the candidates
presenting themselves on the ballot. This system is actually a
"free-for-all." The top two vote getters from the mob of candidates
then face a runoff election, meaning that two candidates from the same
party could easily become the final contenders. No write-in candidates
would be allowed and representatives of smaller parities would rarely,
if ever, appear on the final ballot.
The real threat to taxpayers is the likely election of more Republicans
in the Maldonado mold, who would be more likely to cross ordinary
taxpayers on matters requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.
This not only includes tax increases, but the increased likelihood of
the Legislature placing hostile constitutional amendments on the
ballot that would weaken Proposition 13 and/or Proposition 218 — the
Right to Vote on Taxes Act. With the support of "Maldonado
Republicans," this situation is even more threatening because it would
give the appearance of bipartisan support.
The situation would not be as threatening if the problem with moderate
Republicans were offset by the election of more moderate Democrats who
would be more supportive of ordinary taxpayers. However, an analysis
of historical voting patterns of moderate Democrats reveals that they
are generally no more supportive of ordinary taxpayers than liberal
Democrats. On occasion, moderate Democrats will side with ordinary
taxpayers, but those situations typically occur when the legislative
vote takes place near an upcoming election and the lawmaker represents
a competitive district.
The election of more "moderate" Republicans would be a great win for
the big business and public employee union interests that supported
the May 2009 ballot measures that would have increased taxes another
$16 billion. The motivation is greed. The businesses want to pay less
by shifting the tax burden to others and the government worker unions
just want more, more, and more.
When it comes to protecting taxpayers’ interests, retaining the current
system is more likely to produce a corps of lawmakers who will
stalwartly defend taxpayers’ interests. The Prop. 14 free-for-all
should be rejected.