Tags: Trump Administration | GOP2016 | Hillary Clinton | party | primary | single

Democrats to Fight Over Barbara Boxer's Seat

Democrats to Fight Over Barbara Boxer's Seat
Calif. State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, w/Gov. Jerry Brown (AP) 

By Tuesday, 07 June 2016 10:28 AM Current | Bio | Archive

For the first time since election of U.S. senators began in California in the early 20th century, two Democrats are touted as the contenders this fall for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

According to the Field Poll, among likely voters in the Senate race, State Attorney General Kamala Harris leads fellow liberal Democrat and Rep. Loretta Sanchez by a margin of 30 percent to 14 percent. Three Republicans — former State Assemblyman Phil Wyman and former State Party Chairmen Tom Del Beccaro — are all in single digits in the same survey.

Under election rules that were first implemented in 2009, candidates for any office in the Golden State all compete on the same primary ballot regardless of party. The top two vote-getters regardless of party then compete in a November run-off.

Noting that both Harris and Sanchez are Democrats with whom the president enjoys a good relationship, I asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest how Obama would make a decision as to whom he will support and campaign for in the fall. “I think we’ll wait and see what the results are before we contemplate how the president will confront that rather unique situation,” Earnest replied.

When I then asked if I could pose that question to him Wednesday morning after the primary, the president’s top spokesman shot back: “You can certainly try!” — prompting major laughter from the reporters.

Based on the so-called “jungle primary” system with which Louisiana has elected officials since the early 1970s, California’s seven-year-old mechanism for nomination and election has long been under harsh fire from many conservative Republicans.

“We’ve basically moved the general election to the primary in June,” Jon Fleischmann of the much-read on-line “Flash Report” told me, “It guarantees that any Republican outside of a celebrity will not be able to raise major dollars because of the feeling that the real race is among the Democrats.”

Fleischmann recalled how in 1998, a new state law permitting independents to vote in party primaries was challenged in court by then-State GOP Chairman John McGraw. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a ruling by the late Justice Antonin Scalia struck down the “open primary” law on the grounds it violated the parties’ right to association.

In 2009, Fleischmann told me, “[liberal Republican Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger needed Republican votes in the Senate to enact a major tax increase. [Then-Sen.] Abel Maldonado agreed to support the increase, but only if Schwarzenegger would back the change to a ‘jungle primary.’”

He not only backed it, said Fleischmann, “but raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to enact it in a statewide initiative. It passed easily.”

“This measure was touted as giving us greater choice in the selection of elected officials,” he added, “So now we are choosing between two supporters of Hillary Clinton. I’d say that’s less choice.”

Other more moderate Republicans in California make the case that if one cares about who is nominated, he or she opposes the “single party primary.” But a Republican who cares about the general election supports it.

As one veteran state party activist told me, “If you realize that California is solidly Democratic, then you would rather have Harris and Sanchez spending money against one another in November rather than one winning the primary and giving money to other Democrats in the fall because their election over the Republican — whomever that is — is a cinch.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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For the first time since election of U.S. senators began in California in the early 20th century, two Democrats are touted as the contenders this fall for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
party, primary, single
Tuesday, 07 June 2016 10:28 AM
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