California Republican Politician David Harmer Praises Prop. 14 for Keeping Minor Party Candidates Out of General Elections

David Harmer, Republican nominee for U.S. House, 11th district, last year, is quoted in this story as praising California’s Proposition 14 because it keeps minor party candidates out of the general election. Harmer is the son of former Lieutenant Governor John Harmer.

The story also quotes Markham Robinson, Secretary of one faction of the American Independent Party, as saying that Proposition 14 may someday help minor party candidates. The data suggest otherwise. There have been 775 instances in the United States at which minor party candidates ran for state or federal office in blanket primaries or top-two primaries. Out of those 775 instances, there are only 2 at which a minor party member ever placed first or second (ignoring the obvious cases at which only one major party person ran). Even minor party candidates with the potential to win the election virtually never place first or second in the primary, because during primary season, voters are more interested in determining which major party candidates advance. Voters generally only pay attention to minor party candidates after the primary is over. For example, Jesse Ventura only polled 3% in Minnesota’s open primary in mid-September 1998, but he was elected as the Reform Party nominee in November 1998. The Minnesota example, however, is not an instance of a blanket or top-two primary, but it still makes the point.


California Republican Politician David Harmer Praises Prop. 14 for Keeping Minor Party Candidates Out of General Elections — 12 Comments

  1. -shrug- David Harmer is a sore loser because he supposedly lost because of *gasp* a 3rd party candidate.

    It seems amazing to me that there are plenty of people out there who realize there is a problem with our elections, and yet the solutions they come up with are things like a top-two primary (as opposed to changing the election method). Yuck.

  2. Pingback: Digest for 3/10 | Stuck in a Digital-Haze

  3. Richard Winger overlooks the effect of incumbency, and the special circumstances of those three elections in 2008 and 2010. Indeed the only time under the Open Primary where an incumbent was not re-elected was either due to redistricting or rather special circumstances. In 1978, Buddy Leach was elected by a narrow margin, and there were scores of conviction on vote-buying. But the US House concluded that the Democrats had only bothered to buy 61 votes, in an election won 266. In 1980, the one-term representative Leach got clobbered in the runoff 64% to 36% by then-fellow Democrat Buddy Roemer.

    In May 2008, Don Cazayoux had won a special election to be elected to Congress, after three rounds (Democrat primary, Democratic runoff, and the special election). He did not receive a majority in the special election because of a few spoiler candidates. In the general election in November, a Democratic candidate that he had beaten in the spring ran as an independent and secured 12% of the vote, which was enough to permit the defeat of the 6-month incumbent Cazayoux. Again, the winner did not have a majority, but had a substantial plurality due to the spoiler candidate.

    William Jefferson, who is black, was under federal indictment, and $100,000 in cold cash had been found in his freezer. He would still likely won re-election in his congressional district. But Hurricane Gustav delayed the elections. On November 4, 2008 while Barack Obama was piling up a 74:25 win in the congressional district, Jefferson only won the Democratic nomination. It was in the delayed general election a month later where Joseph Cao, a Republican and Vietnamese won a narrow victory on extremely light turnout. He did not receive a majority of the vote.

    In 2010, Cao running for re-election was easily defeated (35:65). In 2010, the winner in Louisiana’s six contested congressional races received an averaged of 69% of the vote, with the closest race a 62:32:5 win.

    It is an extreme shallow analysis that would lead one to a conclusion that a system of partisan primaries leads to less incumbent re-election. It may be true that it is more susceptible to fluke results, which are then overturned in a subsequent elections. But that hardly commends the system, if the original election produces an anomaly. If we dispensed with elections entirely, and switched to dice rolls, there would be more incumbents “defeated”.

  4. “The story also quotes Markham Robinson, Secretary of one faction of the American Independent Party, as saying that Proposition 14 may someday help minor party candidates. The data suggest otherwise.”

    Richard is putting it very mildly. All common sense suggests otherwise.

    Robinson has no appreciation whatever for the American Independent Party. He knows nothing about its history or the people who have worked in its vineyard for all these many years. Furthermore, his Neo-Con, global internventionist views are totally antithetical to the AIP’s non-interventionist roots, planted by founder William K. Shearer and nutureed by a succession of selfless and worthy candidates and activists for more than 40 years now. I do know. I’ve been a part of it all since 1971.

    Robinson should not only not be speaking for the American Independent Party, he should not even be in the American Independent Party. His views are far more compatible with Republican Neo-Con poster boy Bill Kristol, Alan Keyes’ college roommate, than anything resembling the traditional non-interventionst, paleo-conservative/ populist views of the American Independent Party. For the media to consult with Markham Robinson about anything relating to the American Independent Party is a complete travesty.

    By the way, Robinson likes to demean AIP candidates who he says “have no chance,” but he fails to mention the fact that he couldn’t even make it through an AIP primary election last year (he got trounced), so what does that say for him?

  5. Harmer as defined by the dictionary

    : to cause harm to
    — harm·er noun

    ex: Prop 14 is a harmer of California

  6. Voters will vote in a manner that they think is meaningful. In 1998, there was a hotly contested Democratic primary among several candidates who at least had high name recognition (Skip Humphrey, Mike Freeman, and Ted Mondale were sons of two former Vice Presidents and Secretary of Agriculture). In the general election, Independence Party candidates for the legislature received very few votes. It was all about Jesse Ventura being a fresh face (Minnesota’s election day registration probably was the key factor as college students could go vote if they liked a clever TV ad, rather than voters voting for the Reform Party platform.

    Richard Winger makes an erroneous assumption that Jesse Ventura would have run the same campaign under a Top 2 system. It is quite possible that Ventura would have qualified for the general election. Whether he would have a Top 2 election is unknown, just as it is is unknown whether he would have won a runoff against Norm Coleman.

    In the 2008 senatorial election, and the 2010 gubernatorial election in Minnesota, the Independence Party candidate was a spoiler candidate.

    Some of the best evidence of cross-over voting in California under the blanket primary, was the assembly race which had one Democrat, one Republican, and two Libertarians. A relatively large number of voters decided to vote in Libertarian race, since a vote for the Democrat or Republican was a totally superfluous act.

    In blanket party races where there was only candidate from each party, voters were more likely to vote for a minor party candidate in the primary, where they could vote their true choice and not worry that the vote was wasted. Richard Winger would have you believe that Libertarian and other 3rd party voters would vote for a Republican or Democratic candidate to determine which would participate in the general election, and then vote for the minor party candidate in the general election.

  7. Jesse Ventura

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    – Bribed a candidate on July 17, 1998 so he could run unopposed in the Reform Party and keep his radio show. Call for free video of the actual bribe.
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    – Told University of Minnesota students to “win if you can, lose if you must, but Always Cheat”.
    – Insulted people who were religious or mentally ill.
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  8. I’m not surprised at all by Robinson’s comments. The material on his website is quite Pro-GOP in the first place.

  9. Cody Quirk

    I did not know that Markham Robinson’s had a personal website? I would like to read it. What is the URL address?

    Sincerely, Mark Seidenberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party.

  10. Gary Odom

    The American Independent Party left the Constituion Party on
    June 27, 2008. Mr. Markham Robinson, became its Chairman on
    September 3. 2008 and completed a two year term.

    The AIP moved on to the America’s Independent Party. Get on
    with forming the Constitution Party of California, you lost
    in King v. Robinson. Grundmann as Charman of the Constitution Party has caused a decline in voters to a low
    of 157 for the entire state of California.

    Sincerely, Mark Seidnberg, Vice Chairman, American Independent Party

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