The top-two system was supposed to produce new political competition.
Its first big test in a statewide race – the U.S. Senate runoff between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez – has raised questions about that argument. There’s been little competition. Sanchez, in particular, has been scarce, most recently making news for declining to talk to organizers of debates.
What to do? Well, it’s long past time to throw out top two. But since that’s considered a revolutionary idea (at least for now, if not for much longer), there really ought to be a debate with our U.S. Senator-elect, Harris. If only to give her some legitimacy and some practice before she heads off to Washington.
One possibility might be the third-place finisher in the June elections, the Republican Duf Sundheim. He seems to have time to do media commentary (he’s been on the radio a bit in Southern California), so he could be a Harris sparring partner. But maybe he’d see that as unseemly. Or maybe he’s got better things to do.
I have zero experience as a political debater – though I did once take second place in extemporaneous speaking at a speech and debate tournament at La Mirada High back in 1991. In extemp, they gave you a current events topic and then like 5 minutes to make something to say. (I never imagined I’d end up doing that professionally, right here in this space.)
But I think I might be able to do a more credible job than Sanchez, who was borderline incoherent in debates before the April elections.
I wouldn’t do personal attacking, or have specific ideas on legislation, but I’d have lots of hard questions for Harris.
So I stand ready to fill in for Sanchez in the proposed September 20debate in Sacramento that the Congresswoman has shunned. Just give me the word, and I’ll start writing jokes… er… talking points.