Third Parties Divided Over Top Two Primary Initiative
Saturday, September 06, 2014
Oregonians will decide in November on the so-called top-two primary initiative. Primaries are normally closed to all but party voters, who then select which candidate will run in the general election. In recent years, critics have said primaries tend to only draw extremist voters, who then elect polarizing candidates .
The proposed measure would create a new general election and runoff system. Instead of a party primary, all voters would vote on any candidate in the field. The top two candidates from that election would then go to a runoff.
Backers say the system would result in the election of more moderate politicians.
Opponents say it could limit choice and lead to one-party dominance in government.
The third parties are split on how the measure would impact their role in Oregon politics.
“I think this is one of the dumbest and most dangerous reforms that exists,” said Blair Bobier, spokesman for the Pacific Green Party.
The Green, Progressive and Libertarian parties all fear the proposed new system would shut third parties out.
Third-party candidates can get on the General Election ballot now, as long as they qualify as an official minor party. To do that, all a party has to do is gather signatures totaling 1.5 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.
Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) is the largest minor party in the state, with 100,000 members. That group is split on the measure and won’t take an official stand.
But IPO secretary Sal Parelta said some third-party candidates will stand a better chance of getting elected with a primary that allows voters to vote on candidates regardless of their party affiliation.
“I think it actually creates more opportunities for a party like ours to compete,” Parelta said.
The top-two system, however, has picked up a few third-party endorsements.
The Oregon Working Family Party in July endorsed the initiative. The party's state directior, Steve Hughes, said the majority of Oregon voters under 40 years old do not identify with the Republican or Democratic parties and cannot vote in the primary election.
"Those young people are shut out," he said. "That’s a problem that’s not getting any better."
Unlike the open primary systems in Washington and California, Oregon will allow for third parties to endorse candidates outside their own party. Some see that as an advantage that could give them an edge with candidates who want that extra support.
Democrat James Kelly, the man behind the initiative, agrees.
“That gives a lot of power to the minor parties to negotiate with the candidates for endorsements.”
Kelly, who donated to the 2008 campaign for a similar initiative that failed by a wide margin, said his reasons are personal. He lives in a heavily Republican, Eastern Oregon district and believes an open primary would give him a bigger voice in the election.
“The primaries settle the elections and I don’t even get a chance to vote,” he said. “People who get elected are so far to the right, people who are unwilling to compromise in the legislature.”
“I think from the point of view of the democratic process, we don’t want just moderates,” Bobier said. "We want everybody.”
[Disclosure: James Kelly is an investor in GoLocalPDX. His financial role in the company was not a factor in the reporting of this story.]
Related Slideshow: The Eight Political Types
What political type are you? The Pew Research Center says most Americans fall into eight groups. Can you find your match?
Republicans who regularly attend religious services (55 percent attend at least weekly) and are very politically engaged. Steadfast Conservatives are mostly male (59 percent), non-Hispanic white (87 percent), and hold very negative thoughts towards immigrants/immigration.
Photo Credit: Denise Cross Photography,Day 36/366.....I Voted, Feb 5 036/366, Live look
If you are an individualist who invests in the stock market and believes the government is doing a bad job, then you might be a Business Conservative. Unlike Steadfast Conservatives, Business Conservatives believe that immigrants strengthen the country. Most Business Conservatives live in suburbs with 45 percent earning $75,000 a year or more.
Photo Credit: "Photos NewYork1 032". Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - Live look (image cropped)
Educated liberals who are optimistic about the nation’s future and who continually support President Obama (with 84 percent approving his job performance) and, you guessed it, faithfully vote Democrat. Unlike Business Conservatives who prefer the suburbs, 45 percent of Solid Liberals prefer to live in a city.
Photo Credit: "President Barack Obama, 2012 portrait crop" by Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Are you a person that dislikes both Republicans and Democrats? Young Outsiders may lean towards the Republican Party, but heavily support the environment and liberal social policies, unlike their conservative counterparts. Also they are one of the youngest typology groups, with 30 percent under the age of 30. Young Outsiders are 73 percent non-Hispanic whites who think "poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return."
Photo Credit: Tucker Carlson, Tucker Carlson's Twitter Profile
Like Young Outsiders, Hard-Pressed Skeptics doubt Democrats and Republicans, but lean towards the Democratic Party view, although fewer than half approve of Obama’s job performance. Difficult financial circumstances have left Hard-Pressed Skeptics to believe that “the poor have hard lives because government benefits don’t go far enough to help them live decently.”
Photo Credit: By Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information / Office of Emergency Management / Resettlement Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (image cropped)
Next Generation Left
You might just be a Next Generation Left if you're liberal on social issues: abortion, same-sex marriage and affirmative action. However, Next Generation Leftists deny the belief that racial discrimination is a barrier to success for racial minorities.
Photo Credit: Jfruh at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 Live look (image cropped)
Faith and Family Left
This group is highly diverse with 30 percent African-American and 18 percent foreign born. Faith and Family Left want a greater government role in programs such as aid for the poor. However, they are conservative when it comes to social issues, like opposing same sex marriage and legalizing marijuana, probably because the majority put religion and family first.
Photo Credit: Vinoth Chandar "play of light in santhome church" Live look (image cropped)
If you keep saying “I don’t get it, I don’t see myself as any of the types,” you might just be a Bystander, which means you're the person on the sidelines. You're more interested in celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyonce (are they really getting a divorce?) than government and politics. Noteworthy that Bystanders don't registered to vote, but do love the outdoors. Some 66 percent of bystanders consider themselves an “outdoor person.”
Photo Credit: By idrewuk (originally posted to Flickr as Hello hubbie!) [CC-BY-2.0 Live look, via Wikimedia Commons
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