Today's Joel Connelly Post-Intelligencer column has a string of thoughts worth considering as Washington prepares for its entry into a redefinition of a primary election - one designed not to choose party nominees but simply to winnow the field to no more than two. A couple of the quotes he include seem to hit close to center of the issue.
That make clear that what you think of the new top-two approach depends a great deal on what you think of the proper role of political parties in our politics.
The new primary approach - the result after court decisions threw out the old "blanket" primary, in which (in the primary) voters could choose one candidate for each office, jumping back and forth among parties if they chose. The parties argued in court this meant their party members were being deprived of the ability to select their own nominees.
Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro: "To me, it's much better than party preferences: The new system means interesting contests in places that haven't seen a real race in a long time. . . OK, it means two Republicans running in some places, two Democrats in others. We have too many safe seats in this state. Safe seats make for lazy people."
Ivan Weiss, Democratic chair of the 34th Legislative District: "They're out to destroy the influence of the political parties."
Our guess here is that, once the initial inevitable confusion passes, most voters will be okay with top-two, partly because it will give them a choice in November between the two most-preferred choices, whoever they are - which is more than many voters have now. (more…)