Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Matthew Munson's Take on Prop 14

California Republican Matthew Munson

There will be a potential resolution during the upcoming California Republican Party convention in Sacramento on March 1st. Conservative activists are fed up of Proposition 14 shutting us out in the ballot box. In districts such as Congressional District 35 and Assembly District 47 we have had Republicans shut out for two elections in a row.
There is a need for more moderate candidates being able to compete in some districts. I do agree, however, that shutting out Democrats entirely in some districts is not helping the GOP cause. In fact, the initial assumption behind Prop 14 was that partisan politicians would move toward the center to scoop up more votes.

The fact is that party affiliation runs deeper than a superficial appraisal of voter rationale will permit. I refused to vote for either state senate candidate in District 26, precisely because of them were extremely liberal and offensive in their views. I wrote in the one Independent Seth Stodder.

One reform I would promote: allow for write-in candidates during the general election. All for a full and free franchise for all voters.

Proposition 14 proponent Charles Munger Jr. does not want his investment in the ballot measure to go down in flames and he got a dozen former legislators to write a letter to party delegates. Proposition 14 may have some good points such as promoting costly fratricide between Democrats, but we are here to build a party not just to cheer lead the less progressive Democratic Party candidate. It seems Munger would rather fight Republicans in Republican versus Republican races as what happened in Congressional District 8 in 2012 and Senate District 28 in 2014. 

The whole Republican v. Republican mantra against Charles Munger is fading away. In the 2014 cycle, Munger invested in Republican candidates who carried their districts, in spite of the fact that state partisans did not believe that they could win. Mario Guerra was a close second in the general election in one LA County district, and still has a strong future in LA politics. We have to keep in mind that this Top Two primary process allows Republicans the certainty of keeping some seats, especially in Northern California, and most recently Northern Los Angeles County, where state senator Steve Knight defeated former Assemblyman Tony Strickland.

When there is no reason for people to vote, they will leave their ballots blank or not vote at all. We need to give a voice to all political parties not just the dominant ones in a district. A place on the ballot should be given to all ballot qualified parties who have candidates in the primary election not just the Top 2 finalists.
I agree. The best reform would be to allow write-in candidates for partisan as well as non-partisan races. No one should be disenfranchised and unlike the political science wonks who dreamed up this jungle primary process, voters are still committed to their values and do not readily sacrifice their views to vote for someone of another party, especially when they feel that they did not have a choice in the first place.

We have party leaders who say we need to have Republicans contest all the races, but when we do not support our candidates in marginal races then it can explain why we have Democrat on Democrat snore fests. If party leaders want us to run in these districts then we need to be fully supported. I am not expecting these candidates to have glossy mailers paid for, but the filing fees to get on the ballot should be the minimum expectation.
I have a better idea. The state of California should lower the filing fee, or balance it with a set number of signatures. If a candidate does not have the money, then the candidate must seek out the signatures of residential voters, but regardless of party affiliation. If I want to run as a Republican in a district, then I should have the opportunity to get the signature of any voter, regardless of party. It's up to me to put the effort into the filing process to show that I am a serious candidate, because there should be some metric in place to discourage unserious people throwing their hat into the ring and wasting city and state resources.

When Proposition 14 is repealed we will have more people willing to donate to our primary candidates because they know that there will be a place for them on the November ballot. No more pale shades of grey running against each other where they will be debating if the minimum wage will be 16 or 50 dollars a hour, but we can have real Republicans on the ballot for a change.
Our former party leaders who sent the letter to the delegates for the upcoming convention are wrong. And I hope delegates vote to support the resolution to repeal Proposition 14.

The supposition that X reform will lead to Y result is precisely the kind of thinking which brought the state of California Prop 14. Term limits are not enough to keep career politicians out of power, and their attending corruption out of Sacramento. Changing the structure of the voting process alone cannot make up for apathetic, uninterested, and uninformed voters and partisan activists.

One thing that I can agree on with critics of Prop 14: rather than moderating the process and bringing centrist candidates with a bipartisan edge, this "reform" has actually made winning politicians more partisan and diminished the impact of two-party campaigning in the state of California.

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