Former Top Aide to Governor Arnold Schwarznegger Admits Top-Two Injures Independent Candidates

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was the leading proponent of California’s top-two ballot measures, both in 2004 (when the proposal lost) and in June 2010 (when it won). The July 20 Sacramento Bee has this discussion with Rob Stutzman, who was the Governor’s chief of staff for communications and who still supports top-two systems. In the piece, which discusses the failure of a leading independent candidate for Secretary of State this year to qualify for the November ballot, Stutzman says, “I think an independent can win in a general election, but its extremely difficult to advance through the top-two primary.”

The piece also includes comments from Darry Sragow, a former supporter of Americans Elect. Sragow seems to sidestep taking a position on whether top-two systems are good or bad for independent candidates.

Even though both Stutzman and Sragow are experts on political campaigns, neither one of them mentions the subsidiary harm done by California’s top-two law, relative to independent candidates. The California law does not permit an independent candidate to have the ballot label “independent” on the ballot. The candidate is stuck with the unappealing label, “no party preference”. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.


Former Top Aide to Governor Arnold Schwarznegger Admits Top-Two Injures Independent Candidates — No Comments

  1. The top 2 scheme makes the minority rule gerrymander math even worse —

    i.e. in ALL districts NOT having 1 D and 1 R many voters do NOT vote for either of the top 2 primary candidates.

    NO primaries.
    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. I don’t think a top-two system is even constitutional. Worldwide there have been judicial discussions about fair elections meaning that all eligible candidates (or parties) must be voted upon on more or less the same day. Even excessive numbers of votes by letter (e.g. for expatriates and the military) have been discussed as violating the principle. The reason being, that if e.g. a “hawk” and a “dove” were to compete and three days before the election a terrorist attack was perpetrated, then probably the dove would lose votes. However, the votes that were cast prior to this date cannot be changed. Similar if you first narrow down eligible candidates I think.

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